Officially, Ravens Lose Again

Looking Like a Winner, Reversal of Missed FG Changes Fortunes: Browns 33, Ravens 30

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 19, 2007; Page E11

BALTIMORE, Nov. 18 -- Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson lay flat on his back, exultant, in the moments immediately after Phil Dawson's potential game-tying, 51-yard field goal appeared to bounce off the goal post and an official waved it off with no time left on the clock. The Ravens, he thought, had just snapped their three-game losing streak with a come-from-behind victory over the Cleveland Browns.

Johnson then ran off the field, along with many of his teammates, and into the locker room, only to be called back minutes later after the officials ruled that Dawson's kick was indeed good, having passed through the uprights before bouncing off of the goal-post support and back onto the field. Less than six minutes into overtime, Dawson made a 33-yard field goal to give the Browns a 33-30 victory.

Kyle Boller
Operating against the league's 32nd-ranked defense, Kyle Boller leads the Ravens on four scoring drives in the fourth quarter to recover from a 13-point deficit to take a lead. (Jamie Squire - Getty Images)

"Having four turnovers, not playing well early, letting them run the ball a little bit -- to come back and to believe that we won the football game, just the character these guys showed is unbelievable," Johnson said. Then he added, with a rueful laugh, "To have to go back out there and come up short, it's tough."

Field goals are not reviewable according to NFL rules, and referee Pete Morelli told a pool reporter that he "did not go under the hood or use replay at all." According to a Ravens official, a cameraman for Baltimore's WMAR-TV filmed Morelli and field judge Jim Saracino at the replay booth, but not under the hood. Morelli had a headset on.

In the pool report, Morelli said he discussed the field goal with two officials, and one of them was "very emphatic that the ball hit the extension and came back across, which in Rule #11, Section 5-C, the entire ball must pass through the goal in case of wind or other forces cause it to return through the goal. . . . Therefore it made the field goal good."

Television replays clearly showed the ball hitting the left upright, passing through the plane of the goal and then bouncing off the curved stanchion that supports the crossbar.

"It's not like we won this game on a fluke," said Cleveland wide receiver Joe Jurevicius, whose 50-yard catch helped set up the Browns' first touchdown. "The field goal was good. The officials just corrected their call."

But the delay between the initial call and the correction caused some confusion. Most of the 71,055 fans inside M&T Bank Stadium began leaving. A Ravens official said that roughly 20 to 25 players went to the locker room -- some had even started removing their pads and ripping off tape -- and Coach Brian Billick headed to his office. Johnson tossed his gloves to a fan in the stands as he left, and had to ask for them back when he returned to the field.

"We all knew there was some type of confusion when it all went down, because not everybody came in at the beginning," cornerback Chris McAlister said. "We heard early enough, but still thought that there was no way that if the ball fell on the playing field side of the goal post that we'd have to go back out there. When we did, we had our wits about us."

The Browns (6-4) won the coin toss, and their game-winning drive played out in a similar way to their game-tying drive. Returner Josh Cribbs, an All-Met quarterback at Dunbar, gave them excellent field position with a 41-yard kickoff return. Then quarterback Derek Anderson, a former Ravens draft pick, converted a key third-and-10 with an 18-yard pass to tight end Kellen Winslow that moved the Browns into field-goal range.

The Ravens (4-6) needed a stunning turnaround from their offense to even put themselves in position to win. In the first half, linebacker Ray Lewis, who returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, provided more points and nearly accounted for more yards than Baltimore's offense. The Ravens, with Kyle Boller starting in place of the injured Steve McNair at quarterback, managed 38 net yards and two first downs -- and nearly all of that (31 yards and both first downs) came in the final two minutes of the second quarter.

Baltimore trailed, 27-14, late in the third quarter following a 100-yard interception return by Cleveland safety Brodney Pool. But the Ravens, behind a more poised Boller and a hard-running Willis McGahee (102 yards), scored 16 straight points in the fourth quarter.

Boller threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to receiver Devard Darling (107 yards on four catches) to tie the score at 27 with 3 minutes 31 seconds left and completed four passes -- including a 38-yarder to wide receiver Derrick Mason -- to set up a 47-yard field goal from Matt Stover for a 30-27 lead with 26 seconds left.

"We definitely took some shots" down the field in the second half, said Boller, whose 279 passing yards (255 in the second half) made him the Ravens' all-time leading passer (7,154 yards). "It's hard in the first half. We couldn't get a first down."

But in the end, the Ravens lost and fell to 0-5 in the AFC North. Players quickly and quietly cleared out of the locker room, with Lewis, Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs -- three of the most vocal players -- declining to speak with reporters.

"The bottom line is, you have to pull out the victory," McAlister said. "No matter the circumstances, you just can't say that you're not getting things going your way. That's not the nature of this game. If you want to win, you have to go out and take it."

© 2007 The Washington Post Company