I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that we're going to hear Gene Steratore's name quite a few times this week.
The referee of this afternoon's Ravens-Bengals game likely didn't make too many friends in the Baltimore area when he called the Ravens for two questionable penalties that led to Bengals field goals.
The more controversial penalty of the two came with the Bengals driving late in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Terrell Suggs came free, forcing quarterback Carson Palmer to get rid of the football. Palmer threw the ball away as Suggs had him in his grasp, and Suggs' momentum brought him down on top of the quarterback.
Steratore threw a flag for roughing the passer, moving the Bengals into field goal range where they would eventually get the game-winning score, and sending Ravens coach John Harbaugh into a solid vein-popping tirade (seen at right).
Here is Steratore's explanation of the penalty call, courtesy of the pool report (tip of the hat to the National Football Post's Aaron Wilson for passing this along):
"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 said that it was the body weight and not the number of steps after the pass that factored into his decision.
"The step aspect is not part of that judgment," Steratore said. "It's another category but to apply your body weight on the quarterback as you drive him into the ground is a judgment call and that's the way I looked at it."
The other penalty in question came in the third quarter, and it again involved Palmer getting brought to the ground.
While in pursuit of Palmer, Ray Lewis got knocked down by an offensive lineman. Palmer made an effort to get around Lewis, but tripped over Lewis' legs.
The officials ruled that Lewis had purposely tripped Palmer, and whistled Lewis for a 10-yard penalty, giving the Bengals a first down when they otherwise would have been punting.
The Suggs penalty, to me, is the more concerning issue. Are we really getting to the point that a defensive player is not allowed to hit a quarterback and bring him to the ground?
It wasn't a hit below the knees, which has recently been ruled illegal. It wasn't a blow to the head, which also is not allowed. Suggs hit Palmer right in the chest, and while he took him to the turf with some force, that has to be done to bring down a guy of Palmer's size.
I'm all for protecting the quarterbacks; they're the guys who fans come to watch. I understand the thinking with these rules. But, it's getting to the point that every time a quarterback is touched, a flag comes flying in. This is football, folks. You're going to get hit from time to time.
The Ravens dished out the hits today, and their record took a hit because of it.