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Tuesday, November 20, 2007
NFL says officials didn't use replay to overturn FG call news services

The officials got the call right, deeming Browns kicker Phil Dawson's game-tying, 51-yard field goal against Baltimore with no time left on Sunday to be good. It's how the officials went about making the decision that has the Ravens scratching their heads.

On Monday, Ravens coach Brian Billick indicated that the team will file a report with the NFL over Sunday's unusual circumstances.

"We'll lodge the normal concerns we had not only with the way the end of the game was administered, but also a couple of calls leading up to that and let the appropriate people handle it," Billick told reporters, according to the team's Web Site. "For us, it's a matter of moving on. Very disappointed, surely as unique a circumstance as I've ever been a part of.

"There's nothing I can add in terms of what they did, what did they see, what actually happened, what should have been done. I'll let the officials communicate that, as I'm sure they will, responding to our memos and in their TV shows. So, I'll try not to supersede that."

The Browns trailed 30-27 on the final play of regulation when Dawson's kick hit the left upright and seemingly bounced off the crossbar before dropping into the end zone.

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The officials called the kick no good, and the Ravens celebrated a victory in which they scored 16 straight points in the fourth quarter, the last of them on a 47-yard field goal by Matt Stover with 26 seconds left.

But the officials didn't leave the field. Instead, they huddled in the end zone to determine if Dawson's kick hit the curved center support behind the crossbar before bouncing back.

NFL rules dictate that a field goal is not reviewable by replay. So, after a lengthy discussion, the officials ruled the kick passed through the uprights and called the teams back onto the field.

WMAR-TV in Baltimore filmed referee Pete Morelli and field judge Jim Saracino at the replay booth on the field but not under the hood. Morelli did have a headset on.

However, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, speaking for Mike Pereira, the NFL's vice president of officiating, told the Akron Beacon Journal that Morelli only talked to replay official Howard Slavin, who confirmed to him that a replay cannot be reviewed.

''Pete Morelli went to the headset to make absolutely sure with replay assistant Howard Slavin that the play was not reviewable,'' Aiello said in an e-mail to the Beacon Journal. ''Slavin confirmed that to Morelli. That was the extent of the discussion.''

Aiello told The Morning Journal of Lorain, Ohio, in an e-mail that situtations like this will be reviewed by the NFL's Competition Committee in the offseason.

''It will be reviewed by the Competition Committee in the offseason as to whether there should be a distinction under replay for this type of situation where a field goal try hits something,'' Aiello told The Morning Journal.

Referring to the initial call, Morelli said, "It was a ruling by one of the officials. The other official informed me that the ball hit the back of the extension of the goal post. ... We determined that was what it struck. Therefore, it made the field goal good."

Billick and half his team was in the locker room when a team official told him the game wasn't over. Linebacker Ray Lewis, who returned an interception for a touchdown earlier, was in the process of getting undressed when told he might have to return.

"It's over. We won," he said.

The Browns (6-4) took the kickoff in overtime and drove 43 yards in nine plays before Dawson kicked a 33-yard field goal with 9:10 left. His final two kicks Sunday served as redemption from one week earlier, when he missed a potential game-tying, 52-yarder in a loss to Pittsburgh.

"We talk many times in training camp about preparing your team for the inevitable things," Billick told reporters Monday. "I was remiss in covering what we do when we've won a game, go into the locker room and are told to come back out again. That's not one scenario that I've covered. So, I don't know that I had them adequately prepared."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.