January 14, 2013
After the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Denver Broncos 38-35 in double overtime Saturday evening, I have heard a lot of Broncos fans blaming the referees for why there team lost. If you’ve had the chance to read any of my stories over the last couple of years, you know I’m not one who likes to hear excuses for why a team lost. The referees, while I admit I’ve said I expect them to be garbage during the courses of games, are constantly used as the scapegoat for why a team loses. Fans and media alike are quick to point the finger at officiating, but we won’t hear anything about that aspect if their team wins. It just goes to show you everything changes depending on who wins and who loses. Broncos fans may not want to hear this, but here is the truth on why the Broncos lost the game. It wasn’t the ref’s fault Broncos kicker Matt Prater missed a 52-yard field goal at the end of the first half, setting the Ravens up to tie the score at 21 with the second long touchdown connection from quarterback Joe Flacco to wide receiver Torrey Smith. It wasn’t the ref’s fault the Broncos were conservative with their play-calling on a 3rd and 7 when they were leading 35-28, which gave the Ravens the ball back with a minute to go. I believe if you have Peyton Manning as your quarterback, you can afford to go for the win(I understand you may have confidence in your defense, but if you have the ball, I believe you should do everything you can to keep the ball in your possession). It wasn’t the ref’s fault the defense busted a coverage on that 70-yard bomb from Flacco to WR Jacoby Jones to tie the game at 35(I still can’t believe how Jones was able to get behind the defense in that situation). It wasn’t the ref’s fault the Broncos chose not to try and drive for a game-winning field goal in regulation(Again, Peyton Manning is your quarterback and you still had two timeouts at your disposal. I would have booed too if I was at Sports Authority Field at Mile High). Finally, it wasn’t the ref’s fault Manning threw an interception at the end of the first overtime, which put the Ravens in position to move in for the game-winning field goal and move on to the AFC Championship Game(I know I’ve made cases for Manning stating otherwise, but you would expect a QB like Manning not to make that crucial mistake). The moral of the story is I point out five cases during the course of the game where the Broncos could have increased their chances of winning. If any of those plays go differently, we’re probably talking about the New England Patriots coming to Denver for the AFC Championship Game instead of the Broncos’ disappointing exit. All of those cases had nothing to do with any blown call or quick whistle. Before you start laying blame on the officials or any other crazy factors, you may want to look at all of the chances the Broncos wasted. Even the biggest Ravens fan would admit the Broncos had the game in the bag. Denver had more than enough opportunities to put this game on ice, but they didn’t do it. Now, the Broncos are left wondering what could have been.
By Charles Taylor