Tampa Bay Sports Day

Baltimore’s Dirty Laundry

Those rags.

Cue Charlton Heston circa 1968: Those damn, dirty yellow rags!

Not the (in)famous Terrible Towels. Penalty flags.  Lots of them.  Thrown at the visiting Baltimore Ravens. Often, and worse – late.  Very late.

The Steelers’ season long crunch time woes were masked by the Baltimore Ravens’ ill-timed sloppiness as two fourth quarter touchdowns were nullified by penalties in a 23-20 Ravens loss at hostile Heinz Field.

With a game winning 38 yard field goal by kicker Jeff Reed with 5:25 remaining under his black hat, Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin held to the tried and true NFL mantra of “no apologies, no excuses” in his post-game, insisting that while the Steelers had “made their bed” with a nearly even, and therefore very uneven 8-7 record, he “likes they way they (the Steelers) are lying in it.”

Raven’s coach Jim Harbaugh did his best to stay positive as well, trying to steer clear of the penalty disparity (Ravens 11-113 yards, Steelers 4-20) in his post-game. But his venom was unmistakable.

When specifically pressed on Willis McGahee’s 32 TD-run that was wiped off the books by a holding call on Ravens wide receiver Kelley Washington, Harbaugh came as clean as a wallet-conscious NFL coach can.

“I think that call was very late,” Harbaugh seethed.  “It didn’t seem like it affected the play.”

Add to this the illegal block in the back called on Terrell Suggs’ that wiped out Domonique Foxworth’s interception/TD return of consistently inconsistent Ben Roethlisberger (17 for 33, 259 yards).

Then throw in cornerback Frank Walker’s illegal contact penalty that spared the Steelers from another late game implosion, stripping Baltimore of any chance at last second heroics with good field position – and Harbaugh would have every reason to rip the Zebras and/or his team.

But to his credit, Harbaugh more or less stuck to the high road. “You can go to penalties if you want, you can put your finger on whatever you want, but we’re going to Oakland to play our hearts out.”

As well they should.  Despite the loss, the Ravens still control their own destiny. A win against the ever- reeling Raiders would land Baltimore in a wild-card berth, while the Steelers still need help from a slew of teams (count the Jets, Broncos and Texans among them) to get to the postseason.

Tomlin stuck fast to his rah-rah message in the face of the twisted playoff math. “We’re going out to control the things we can control, which is to play winning football,” said Tomlin.

As the Fat Man sang once or twice when visiting the Three Rivers: “Wave That Flag” Coach. “Wave it wide and high.”