The Ravens aren’t quite saying, they’re just saying.
Both kicker Justin Tucker and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg made reference to the balls used in their game last week against the Chargers being “different,” while tip-toeing around any suggestion they had been tampered with or in any other way unusual.
Via Edward Lee of the Baltimore Sun, Rosburg was referring to Tucker missing a 65-yard attempt in the second quarter, noting: “In that particular situation, even though you’re in Southern California and it never rains in Southern California, the field was such that it really was not a great plant area, and the footballs were different. Let’s leave it at that.”
Rosburg said after Tucker’s first attempt (the Chargers called a timeout, forcing another), Ravens long snapper Morgan Cox tried to retrieve the same ball.
“Unfortunately, he didn’t get that same ball,” Rosburg said. “They didn’t put that ball back in play. He kicked a different one. Different in quotation marks.”
Tucker agreed that something was amiss, on a day when he also missed a 53-yard field goal.
“They just were different,” Tucker said. “The result of that hour or whatever it was from this last pregame [warmup], none of the footballs were very good, and it was no fault of our equipment staff by any means. It was just what it was. . . .
“I don’t care to get too deeply into the specifics of it because at the end of the day, that can be misconstrued as an excuse when really all I would be trying to do is offer an explanation. So I’ll just echo what coach Rosburg had to say in that the balls were just different than what we’re used to experiencing on your typical NFL Sunday.”
Kickers and punters have long complained about the “K-balls” that are used exclusively for special teams plays, since they’re generally stiffer and less broken-in than other game balls, which affects performance.
According to the league’s operation manual, each team turns in two dozen balls to game officials, who control them (and, ahem, check the air pressure, in case you’ve forgotten) throughout the game.
If the Ravens are alleging anything nefarious — and that seems to be exactly what they’re doing, despite their passive-aggressive attempts to not appear to be — the league should have an explanation.