Crucial penalty shocks Baxter

Late interference call angers Ravens, leaves cornerback `speechless'

Colts 22, Ravens 20

Nfl Week 6

October 14, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

INDIANAPOLIS - Ravens cornerback Gary Baxter said the pass-interference call he received late in yesterday's 22-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts was a first for him.

While Baxter has been hit with interference calls before, he said it had never happened at such a critical time - on fourth-and-10 with less than two minutes left in a game his team led by one point.

The 22-yard penalty placed the ball at the Ravens' 42, and Indianapolis kicker Mike Vanderjagt eventually hit a 38-yard field goal to win the game.

"Never when the game is on the line have I had a call like that. I'm just speechless," Baxter said. "Words really can't express how I feel right now and how I feel about the call. But you just have to learn from those things."

While Baxter accepted responsibility for what happened, the play was not cut and dried. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning left the pocket while being pursued by linebacker Peter Boulware and let loose with a desperation heave to Qadry Ismail.

Baxter, in one-on-one coverage, did not get his head around to see the ball but also did not appear to interfere with Ismail's ability to make the catch. Manning's errant pass sailed over Ismail, and the Ravens' sideline erupted in anger when the yellow flag was thrown.

"I was just in man-to-man coverage, running down the field," Baxter said. "The quarterback broke the pocket, and I had my eyes on my man the whole time. I heard the team holler `ball,' and all I did was jump. I didn't touch him, and they called pass interference.

"Yeah, I was surprised at the call. It's just one of those things. You win some and you lose some, and, unfortunately, we didn't get that break."

Baxter, who spent last season at safety before taking over for free-agent departure Duane Starks, had the support of his teammates.

Boulware even chased down an official as the teams walked off the field to let him know what he thought of that call and others.

"I wanted to tell him something, and I told him what I had to say," Boulware said. "There were a couple of problems during the whole game."

Baxter said he does not think he could have done anything differently on the play other than knock the receiver out of bounds.

"I have to learn off that," Baxter said. "Anytime the quarterback breaks the pocket, I have to have my eyes open and probably push the receiver out of bounds, and he'll be an ineligible receiver.

"A lot of times things don't work out for us in life. Regardless of whatever he called, I just have to keep my head up. It's a long season. I'll learn from it, and I just have to stay positive. Hopefully, me and my teammates will stay tight together."

Ravens coach Brian Billick declined to discuss the call in his post-game news conference.

"I can't afford the fine," Billick said.

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