Suggs' penalty creates controversy

BALTIMORE -- Anger and severe frustration emanated from the Baltimore Ravens' locker room following a controversial call involving whether outside linebacker Terrell Suggs struck Tennessee Titans quarterback Kerry Collins' helmet. It was a pivotal personal foul penalty assessed by referee Bill Carollo that sparked the Titans' game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.

"If anybody can go back and show me something I did illegal, then I would be happy to oblige and say I messed up," Suggs said following the Ravens' 13-10 loss. "But when you are nowhere near his head, we hit arms, we hit arms, it just goes to show the referee has too much power in the game."

The vehemently-disputed unnecessary roughness call on an incomplete pass on third-and-10 from the Titans' 20-yard line provided Collins with a new set of downs, and he took advantage with a long drive capped by a touchdown pass to tight end Alge Crumpler.

"The referees took it from us," cornerback Chris McAlister repeatedly said.

Afterward, Carollo insisted to a pool reporter that Suggs charged into the right side of Collins' helmet. Although a false start was called on Titans offensive tackle Michael Roos at the snap, players apparently didn't hear the whistle that should have halted the play prior to the penalty.

In his explanation, Carollo stated that any 15-yard penalty combined with a false start, a so-called "Five and 15," means that the five-yard penalty is ignored and the 15-yarder is enforced from the previous spot.

"We tried to shut it down and blow the whistle, but the players didn't hear the whistle and they continued to play," Carollo said. "He came in and hit the quarterback on the side of the helmet. If it had been anything other than a personal foul, we would have disregarded it."

Although Suggs was adamant that he never touched Collins' helmet, Carollo had a different interpretation entirely.

"He got him on the side of the helmet, the right side of the helmet," Carollo said. "We're blowing the whistle. He may not have heard that, and we're going to give him that, but he still can't hit the quarterback on the helmet."

Suggs questioned Carollo's motivation in making the call, insinuating that it was an emotionally-motivated decision. He also raised the issue of whether the Ravens' reputation for being combative with officials over the years affected the situation negatively.

"I think at that one particular moment, 'Let me watch and see if I can do something,' you know what I mean?" Suggs said. "He's only human. Go back and see if I did anything illegal from the snap of the ball to the end of the play I'll come to you as a man and, when I messed up, the game is probably caused on me. If you don't see anything, then, 'They probably gotcha on that one.'

"We are the bad boys of football. They are always going to look at us like that. They are always going to have a close eye on us, plus all the personal fouls that was going on early in the game."

That close eye may extend to the league office scrutinizing the call as well as the players' reaction. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently fined Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for criticizing official Ed Hochuli.

For the game, there were a combined 21 penalties with Baltimore flagged 11 times for 91 yards and Tennessee penalized 10 times for 78 yards.

Suggs wasn't alone in his assessment that the officiating crew blew it.

"I thought false starts were supposed to stop the play, it's a dead-ball foul," wide receiver Derrick Mason said "It's frustrating. I can't say anything. Goodell is good with fining players and not fining the people who actually, you know, whatever. I thought it was a dead-ball foul. Hey, you stop the play and you move on. But I guess that wasn't the case."

It was difficult to ascertain conclusively on television instant replays whether Suggs hit Collins' helmet or not.

"Go look at it," Suggs said. "It didn't come close to his helmet. I never have been a dirty player or hit a quarterback in the head. I was trying to get my hand in the passing lane and maybe block a ball. We hit arms and it's a personal foul on me?"

Naturally, Collins was vague on the topic while enjoying the victory.

"I really don't know where he hit me, I know I got hit," Collins said. "I think he hit me in the head, but it's hard to remember every play. The ref made the call. That's all I know."

Ravens cornerback Fabian Washington claimed he got a good look at how the play ensued.

"First of all, it wasn't a personal foul, I saw it, everybody saw it," Washington said. "He didn't touch the dude's helmet. That's a hard pill to swallow, but we got to move on."

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