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Ref flub aided Ravens comeback

By Associated Press
Published November 25, 2003

NEW YORK - An officiating blunder Sunday gave Baltimore critical extra time in its fourth-quarter comeback victory over Seattle, the NFL said Monday.

Supervisor of officials Mike Pereira said the 40-second clock and the game clock should have been restarted after an officials conference over a penalty call with 58 seconds left. The Seahawks had the ball and led 41-38.

Because the clock wasn't started, the Ravens had 39 seconds left instead of four or five when they got the ball back on downs at their 33.

They tied the score on Matt Stover's field goal after a key 44-yard pass interference penalty. Baltimore won 44-41 in overtime.

"The clock was not started at the proper time, which was an administrative error by the officiating crew," Pereira said in a statement.

Ravens coach Brian Billick conceded that his team benefited from the mistake by referee Tom White and his crew.

The mistake came after the clock stopped with 58 seconds left when head linesman Ed Camp threw a penalty flag. He thought offensive tackle Floyd Womack lined up as an ineligible receiver for Seattle on a second-down play on which Shaun Alexander gained 3 yards to the Baltimore 33.

The Ravens called their final timeout, but the clock was stopped for the officials conference in which it was determined Womack had reported as eligible. The flag was picked up.

Pereira said the conference negated Baltimore's timeout, leaving the Ravens with one.

But he said the officials erred in not restarting both clocks afterward. If they had, Baltimore would have been forced to take its final timeout or let the clock run down by 40 seconds or more.

Instead, the clocked remained stopped until the next play started, a run for no gain by Alexander on third and 1. That allowed the Ravens to use their last timeout with 44 seconds left.

McNAIR MIGHT PLAY: The Titans have seen Steve McNair play through a variety of injuries. So coach Jeff Fisher isn't ruling out the NFL's top-rated passer against the Jets just because of a strained right calf.

"We know what his history is," Fisher said. "He wants very badly to play in this ballgame. The last time we played in the Meadowlands, he did not practice and probably won't practice this week. If he's able to play, in all likelihood it will be a pregame type of decision."

McNair strained his calf in the second quarter Sunday against Atlanta, and he had a walking boot on his right leg when he limped off after the game. Fisher said doctors found limited damage.

SMITH STILL UPSET: In no mood to celebrate tying the sacks record, Bruce Smith took his case for more playing time to Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

Smith got a half-sack in Washington's loss to Miami on Sunday night. But the constant losing and his demotion to backup status has the defensive end, 40, too upset to enjoy the fact he has equaled Reggie White's mark of 198.

Smith said he discussed his limited role with Snyder after the game.

"I can't help this team win if I'm not on the field," Smith said. "This is not a selfish statement; I want to help this team win. And being on the sideline, my hands are tied."

Meanwhile, conceding the playoffs are "very, very unrealistic," coach Steve Spurrier apologized for the Redskins' performance. He also said Patrick Ramsey will remain the starting quarterback if healthy, but left tackle Chris Samuels will miss Sunday's game vs. New Orleans with a knee injury.

BRONCOS: Tight end Shannon Sharpe separated rib cartilage in the fourth quarter against Chicago. X-rays didn't show any broken bones, but the team won't know until later this week if he'll play against the Raiders on Sunday.

JAGUARS: After producing one touchdown in the past two games, rookie quarterback Byron Leftwich could be heading to the bench. Coach Jack Del Rio said he is considering giving David Garrard the start when the Jaguars play Tampa Bay on Sunday.

RAMS: Coach Mike Martz said Marc Bulger is his quarterback, even though Bulger committed five turnovers in Sunday's overtime victory against the Cardinals and has thrown four touchdowns and 10 interceptions the past four weeks.

SAINTS: Quarterback Aaron Brooks was sent for an MRI on his right knee. Brooks strained his knee against the Falcons on Nov. 16 and reinjured it early in the second quarter Sunday against Philadelphia.

TEXANS: Houston won't know whether quarterback David Carr can play Sunday against Atlanta until his workout Wednesday. Carr was listed as the No. 3 emergency QB against the Patriots.

[Last modified November 25, 2003, 02:06:38]


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