Thursday, September 27, 2012
Browns, Ravens and controversial finish
By Jamison Hensley
With the locked-out officials expected to return in time for Thursday night's game, many expect normalcy to come back to the game. The Browns and Ravens know that's not a certainty. They were part of a controversial finish long before the replacement officials ever walked onto an NFL field.
Officials reversed the call on the field, giving the Browns a field goal that sent their 2007 game with the Ravens into overtime.
Five years ago in Baltimore, Phil Dawson's 51-yard field goal at the end of regulation sparked debate and eventually resulted in a rule change. Dawson's kick clanged off the left upright, ricocheted back to the curved extension that supports the goalposts and bounced back into the end zone.
The Ravens thought they had won when an official ruled it no good and celebrated on the field. After a nearly five-minute discussion among three officials (referee Pete Morelli and the two standing underneath the goal post on the kick), Morelli reversed the ruling and called the kick good, which tied the score at 30 and sent the game into overtime. The Browns won in overtime on another Dawson field goal.
"I was remiss in not covering [in training camp] what we do when we've won a game, go into the locker room and are told to come back out again," then-Ravens coach Brian Billick said a day after the game. "I don't know that I had them adequately prepared for that."
The Ravens were upset that Morelli pulled on a headset, consulted with someone who may have seen the replays and then overturned the call. But the NFL insisted that Morelli put on the headset only to confirm that the play was not reviewable, not to get word on whether or not the kick was good.
In the offseason, the NFL decided to create a rule that allowed kicks that hit the uprights or crossbar to be reviewable. It's called the Phil Dawson rule.
So, what was the point of this go back-in-time moment? Yes, the replacement referees were an embarrassment. But don't expect the locked-out officials to be perfect when they return.