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Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Could officiating tendencies favor Titans pass rush?

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Terry McAulay will be the referee for Saturday's divisional round playoff game between Baltimore and Tennessee at LP Field.

In the Week 5 meeting between the teams, overseen by Bill Carollo's crew, 21 penalties were called. The Ravens were flagged 11 times for 91 yards and the Titans 10 times for 78 yards.

The Titans did not play in a game officiated by McAulay this season while the Ravens had his crew once, in a Dec. 7 win over Washington when the Redskins were whistled for seven penalties for 39 yards and the Ravens four times for 35 yards.

ESPN Research had some quality tidbits on McAulay:

-- McAulay's crew has called the fifth-most false start penalties (42) and the third-fewest offsides penalties (13).

That favors the defensive lines, which may be able to time their get-offs with less worry while the offensive linemen blocking them may need to be extra careful about twitching. The Titans' defense counts on get-off from its front four more than the Ravens, who run a 3-4 and generate more of their pass pressure through numbers and blitzes.

-- McAulay's crew ranks near the bottom in defensive pass interference calls (seven).

That could favor the Ravens, as their top receiver, Derrick Mason, is physical. Tennessee's Justin Gage and Justin McCareins are hardly finesse players, but they have done far less over time to prove they can make plays against hands-on coverage.

McAuley's crew ranked in the middle of the pack of 17 crews in three of the most significant broad categories. We include the No. 1 and No. 17 crew for context.

Total penalties per game (not all accepted)

1. Walt Anderson 15.3
8. Terry McAulay 13.5
17. Walt Coleman 9.9

Total penalty yards per game

1. Ron Winter 113.8
T8. Terry McAulay 88.7
17. Walt Coleman 67.1

Penalties against home team (total, not all accepted)

1. Ron Winter 124
9. Terry McAulay 100
17. Walt Coleman 65

According to data compiled by ESPN.com's NFC West maven Mike Sando, since 2002 the Ravens are 3-8 in games refereed by McAulay (1-4 on the road) while the Titans are 3-4 (2-3 at home). Those numbers may or may not mean anything.