The Baltimore Ravens and Arizona Cardinals were not only playing each other yesterday, they were also competing against the referees, who called 23 penalties between the two teams in the Ravens 30-27 victory. After a relatively calm first half with seven penalties total on both Baltimore and Arizona, the referees went to work in the second half.
The referees threw more yellow penalty flags in the second half than Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb threw passes. Kolb was four of nine passing in the last 30 minutes, while the referees called 16 penalties. Overall, the referees may have needed to ice down their collective arms, throwing their yellow hankies 23 times, penalizing the Ravens and Cardinals 191 yards. Baltimore was flagged eleven times for 99 yards while Arizona was hit with twelve penalties for 92 yards.
Too many times, drives were extended or stopped by the referees, who seemed to call a lot of infractions on plays that many would consider "ticky-tack." Twice the Ravens had third and long in the Cardinals Red Zone and despite the incompletions Arizona was hit with pass-interference penalties, giving Baltimore first-and-goal, which they converted for critical touchdowns both times.
With so many penalties called, it's hard for either team to complain about a sense of favoritism, as the refs were equal-opportunity flag-throwers on both teams, against the offenses and defenses alike. It seemed like every call in the book made an appearance, from offensive to defensive pass interference and just about everything in between.
The Cardinals were flagged for three false start penalties, three defensive pass interference penalties and two offensive holding penalties, among their twelve total flags. The Ravens were hit with two defensive holding calls, two false starts and two illegal formation calls among their eleven infractions.
This is way too many calls for either team, much less for both. The referees are charged with not letting the game get out of control , but to have them control the game in the manner which they did today took away a lot of the rhythm and sync from both teams, with fans on both sides complaining over and over about questionable calls. Sure, if they wanted to, penalties could be called on almost every play in the game, but do so would destroy the flow and make it uninteresting and frustrating. Today was a clear example of the lack of consistency between officiating crews and the league should take this game tape and adjust their expectations accordingly.