D-flated

Ravens allow Collins, Titans to drive 80 yards for winning TD

A real head-slapper

Ravens Weekend

October 06, 2008|By DAVID STEELE | DAVID STEELE,david.steele@baltsun.com

What are you madder about this morning? The injustice? Or the collapse?

Are you angrier at the officials who, by all accounts except their own, handed the Tennessee Titans new life on that fourth-quarter drive yesterday? Or the Ravens' defense, which let the teetering Titans - and their easy mark of a quarterback, the punch line from the Ravens' Super Bowl win eight years ago - turn that break into the game-winning touchdown and a 13-10 win?

Try both.

The Ravens sure are mad at both. They are sure they got jobbed twice on that one play, the Terrell Suggs blow-to-the-head personal foul that wasn't a blow to the head, and the false start that should have changed everything but changed absolutely nothing.

And they're even madder at themselves. Or, if they're not, they should be. Botched call or not, they still had to just protect the last 65 yards of turf at M&T Bank Stadium for the next 5:50 ... against Kerry Collins.

They couldn't do it, and that's why they're 2-2 and losers of leads in two straight games instead of 3-1 and popper of the Titans' bubble. Chief culprits, in reverse order: 3) Joe Flacco's first real "Uh-oh, these guys aren't Towson" moment; 2) NFL officiating supervisor Mike Pereira's latest nightmare; and 1) Collins' revenge.

That is, the revenge of the quarterback who had done pretty much nothing, throwing two interceptions on the Titans' first two possessions, before the two flags dropped and the whistle (apparently) blew.

"Yeah," Justin Bannan agreed about Collins' turnabout. He paused, then shook his head and said, "You know, I don't think I have anything else to tell you about that."

No question, of course, that had the now-infamous "five-and-15" rule not been invoked (or if referee Bill Carollo had been able to distinguish Collins' shoulder from his head), the Titans would have been punting and praying the Ravens couldn't run out the clock. Plus, Suggs would not have been walking around looking not mad, not vengeful, but baffled.

"We had an opportunity to hold them on third down - it was third down, right? - then we're off the football field, and there you go," said Bart Scott, holding in his public bitterness about the call nicely.

Yet amid all that angst, no one could ignore the events unfolding after that play.

"We all thought it was a bogus call, but we just moved on and tried to get off the field and make things happen," Ngata said. "But the defense just didn't get off the field on third downs after that penalty. We could have ended the game, but we couldn't get off the field."

Pre-Suggs penalty, Collins was a wretched 11-for-24 for 100 yards and the two picks. After: 6-for-8 for 62 yards, two critical third-down conversions and the game-winning touchdown to Alge Crumpler. After a week of reminders of exactly which New York Giants quarterback the Ravens chewed up and spit out in Tampa, Fla., in January 2001, those four minutes oozed with irony.

"It's hard for me to forget that one," Collins said. "That wasn't one of my better days, and it was on my mind."

Nor was it lost on anyone that on a day featuring seven other personal fouls and an on-field confrontation between Titans teammates, the shakiest personal-foul call of them all made the difference.

"I really don't know where he hit me. I know I got hit," Collins acknowledged.

After that, though, the Ravens, and all those with memories going back to 2001, remember who hit them.

Listen to David Steele on Fridays at 9 a.m. on WNST (1570 AM).

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