Wed, Nov 26, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Shoddy officiating gives Ravens an edge

AP , NEW YORK

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

NFL supervisor of officials Mike Pereira said both the 40-second clock and the game clock should have been restarted after an officials' conference over a penalty call with 58 seconds left in regulation. 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 the Baltimore 33.

They ended up tying the game on Matt Stover's field goal following 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.

"There was, I believe, an administrative error in there, in that the clock should have been wound more quickly," Billick said.

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 at that time, 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 more.

But he said the officials erred in not restarting the game clock and play game clock after the conference. 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.

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck carried for no gain on fourth-and-1, and the clock stopped automatically for a change of possession. Baltimore got the ball back with 39 seconds left and mounted the tying drive.

"It got a little confusing," said Billick. "The official threw the flag because he wasn't aware that 77 [Womack] reported. That's standard procedure. That stopped the clock. We expected that the clock would then be restarted and were prepared to call the timeout."

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