Another replay challenge fails in pass interference debate
Harbaugh doesn’t dispute calls often, but he did Sunday
In a tight game between the Ravens and San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, two plays involving possible pass interference penalties took center stage.
After quarterback Lamar Jackson was stripped deep in 49ers territory — the play was his first lost fumble of the season — cornerback Marlon Humphrey was flagged for defensive pass interference on a pivotal fourth-down attempt from the Ravens 29.
Humphrey made contact with the intended receiver, wideout Emmanuel Sanders, extending a drive that resulted in a 32-yard field goal by kicker Robbie Gould to tie the score at 17.
On the Ravens ensuing offensive possession, Jackson targeted Mark Andrews on third-and-11 deep down the field. 49ers safety Jimmie Ward leaped toward the ball, crashing into the back of Andrews before the pass arrived, but defensive pass interference was not called.
Coach John Harbaugh challenged for defensive pass interference, just his second pass interference challenge this season, but officials upheld the call on the field. The NFL allowed coaches to challenge pass interference calls or noncalls this season in response to the controversial ending of last season’s NFC championship game between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints.
According to a graphic on the Fox broadcast, there have been 77 total pass interference reviews this season, and just 15 have reversed the call on the field.
Late hits on Jackson irk Ravens
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson entered Sunday’s matchup against the San Francisco 49ers with 124 rushing attempts, 31 more than any other quarterback in the NFL.
Jackson has done a good job of avoiding big hits in the open field this season, but Ravens players took issue with what they believed were multiple uncalled late hits from 49ers defenders in the team’s 20-17 home win.
“I think they definitely were trying to take advantage of [Jackson], man, as far as once he got past the line of scrimmage or running out of bounds,” right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. said after the game. “They wanted to get him down, and whatever it was, get as many touches and as many hits on him as possible.
“It’s unfortunate. A few times, I think it should’ve been a penalty. But that’s not my responsibility. That’s on the refs, man. But Lamar did a great job popping back up and getting right back to it.”
San Francisco was flagged twice for roughing the passer when Jackson was in the pocket. On a third-quarter run, Jackson was shoved out of bounds by 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman.
Referees initially threw their flags but later announced that there was no penalty for a late hit out of bounds. The decision drew the ire of the announced 71,000 fans at M&T Bank Stadium and coach John Harbaugh, who had words for Sherman.
“[Harbaugh] was saying I made a dirty play on Lamar,” Sherman said. “The quarterback was running like a running back. If you don’t touch him, then he runs up the sideline, and if you do touch him, it’s like everyone is throwing up the hubbub.
“That is where it is tough on defensive players. Every play where the quarterback runs, they are like, ‘Oh my God, that should be a flag,’ but he was running just a half-second ago, and you are making a split-second decision, like ‘Hey, I’ve got to tackle him,’ and then he slides. It is a tough position to put the defense in, but I think our guys did a great job.”
Ravens set franchise record for TDs
The 2019 Ravens made history in the first quarter, setting the franchise single-season record for touchdowns.
Jackson lofted a 20-yard touchdown pass to Andrews, tying the score at 7 with 5:41left in the quarter. It was the team’s 48th score of the season, breaking the record held by the 2009 Ravens for the most in a season.
Defensive back Jimmie Ward defends a pass to Ravens tight end Mark Andrews. There was a question of whether it was defensive pass interference, but no flag was thrown.