With ESPN playing on a continuous loop comments from Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis after a five-point loss to the Bengals that look and sound and feel a lot like comments from Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis after a six-point loss to the Patriots from last season, many of you are brushing off the Lewis lamentations as the product of another defensive-minded player who covets a license to kill quarterbacks.
But it’s not just Lewis. Coach John Harbaugh — who got so pissed at one point on Sunday he may have made contact with an official (I’ll check the video once I make my way from the basement at 30 Rock back to the basement at PFT HQ) — also blasted the fourth-quarter flag thrown on linebacker Terrell Suggs, who by all appearances engaged Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer in physical contact with first having Palmer sign a consent form, or at a minimum buying him dinner.
Enter former V.P. of officiating Mike Pereira. Quickly becoming the most authoritative voice on NFL rules via his multi-platform relationship with FOX, Pereira says (via Sean Leahy of USA Today) that the officials were too aggressive with the flag, even though Pereira previously urged the men in black and white stripes to err on the side of protecting quarterbacks.
With the league hoping to muster sufficient support for a move to an 18-game season, look for the officials to take even greater pains to keep quarterbacks from experiencing the kind of pain that could keep them from playing. Indeed, with each starting quarterback who goes down with an injury, the voices opposed to adding two more weeks of opportunities to injure quarterbacks and all other players will become louder.