McAlister throws flag on officials

Ravens cornerback irked by calls, alleged push-off by C. Johnson

Ravens Gameday

Bengals 21 Ravens 9

November 07, 2005|By BRENT JONES | BRENT JONES,SUN REPORTER

As the Ravens tried to explain how the Cincinnati Bengals could sustain two 12-play drives that resulted in touchdowns, the defense, with the exception of one, pointed a collective finger at itself.

The dissenter, cornerback Chris McAlister - who is known for his aversion to group-think - could not help but include the officials as part of the problem in his team's 21-9 loss.

A non-call of what McAlister felt was a push-off by Bengals receiver Chad Johnson led him to express his displeasure after the game. Johnson's play, in which he made a spectacular contortion to catch the ball for a 48-yard gain to the Ravens' 4, came against one-on-one coverage by McAlister.

Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer eventually found receiver Chris Henry for a 3-yard touchdown and a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter to finish the drive.

"You look at the tape, you see it; it is what it is," McAlister said. "Playing on defense, you touch them, you get a foul. You play on offense, you push off with your arm fully extended, and the refs say nothing about it.

"The [ref's] reply was, `I didn't see any significant movement.' But you didn't see his arm in my back arched when he had his hand in the middle of it? Just take away these guys' stripes. They never played the game; you shouldn't let them call it."

Of course, Johnson viewed the play differently.

"I don't think I touched him, and I didn't feel it if I did," said Johnson, who finished with 91 yards on five catches and has three 100-yard games and five touchdowns in eight meetings with the Ravens.

Cornerback Samari Rolle, who was matched up against Johnson as much as McAlister during the game, said the non-call was more indicative of Johnson's status in the league.

"That's what he does," Rolle said. "They give a great receiver those type of calls."

It may have been the biggest defensive breakdown in the game, but it certainly was not the only one. On the Bengals' first touchdown drive the second quarter, linebacker Bart Scott was hit with an illegal-use-of-hands penalty and pass interference, plays that extended the drive.

Rudi Johnson eventually scored on a 1-yard dive.

Scott's first penalty came on a first-and-20 play after receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh had backed his team up 10 yards on a pass-interference call. The second penalty came on third-and-seven at the Ravens' 15 when Scott collided with Houshmandzadeh on a pass over the middle.

"I tried to do my job and get in front," Scott said. "I thought I had a right to my own real estate. It's up to the ref's discretion, and he choose otherwise."

Asked if the type of calls that went against the Ravens - including a Will Demps fumble recovery that was returned for a touchdown but was blown dead at the spot he picked it up - make the difference in wins and losses, McAlister said, "Multiple plays like that which happen considerably throughout the whole game, yes.

"It's a major shift in field position when you look at ... a 40-, 50-yard pass down the field with a push-off that's not called that puts them 4 yards away from the end zone. That will change the game anytime."

Still, the Bengals were 7-for-11 on third downs, an astonishing 63.6 percent. The Ravens had been allowing teams to convert 33.7 percent.

"It was tough getting them off the field," Scott said. " ... They made the plays and we didn't."

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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