CINCINNATI – The Baltimore Ravens were galled by a roughing-the-passer penalty that helped the Cincinnati Bengals drive to their go-ahead field goal, suggesting the NFL has gone too far in protecting its quarterbacks.
Terrell Suggs was penalized for how he tackled Carson Palmer on an attempted sack Sunday, resulting in a first down. The play came on a drive to Mike Nugent's fourth field goal, which put the Bengals ahead to stay in a 15-10 win.
"We all know the NFL does their best to protect the guy who pays their bills, and that's the quarterback," Suggs said. "If it's a lesser quarterback, maybe there's no call. But I'd do it again."
The Bengals had a first down at the Baltimore 41-yard line when Palmer stood in the pocket to pass. Suggs broke through and wrapped up the 6-foot-5, 236-pound Palmer as he got rid of the ball, tackling him on his back. Referee Gene Steratore decided that he had driven Palmer into the ground while bringing him down, a 15-yard penalty.
"The roughing-the-passer, as I defined it in my opinion on that play, is the defender who has driven his body weight onto the quarterback as he's tackling him," Steratore said. "He's applying his body weight on there. It's a judgment call and in my opinion, I felt like he had driven himself into the ground with the quarterback."
Steratore also was part of the crew that ruled Lions receiver Calvin Johnson had failed to complete a catch in the end zone in the closing seconds of a 19-14 loss in Chicago a week earlier. The league decided that the officials had correctly applied the rule on what constitutes a catch.
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis strongly disagreed with Steratore's judgment on Suggs' play.
"Terrell can't stop in midair," Lewis said. "There's so many rules that take away from the game."
Linebacker Jarret Johnson also was puzzled.
"I don't know," he said. "We're not talking about Pop Warner athletes. These are big, strong guys throwing the football. They'll embarrass you if you're not going in there hard, so you have to play it the same way. I thought Suggs did a great job."
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh didn't have an opinion on how much the call affected the game, but he didn't like it.
"It's hard for us to determine right now what roughing the passer is," Harbaugh said. "If that's roughing the passer, I don't know how you are supposed to bring Carson Palmer or any other 250-pound passer down other than to tackle him.
"We hit him in the strike zone and took him to the ground. There were plenty of other times we couldn't get him to the ground. It takes effort to get the guy to the ground. He's a strong man. They (the NFL) are going to have to explain that to all of us this week and maybe we can figure it out."