It may be too late this season, but the Ravens have to fix their penalty issues. John Harbaugh gets asked about it almost on a weekly basis, and every time the question is delivered, the Ravens coach has the look of someone who just drank a quart of sour milk. Unfortunately for him, the questions about his team's discipline are not going away, not until his players stop committing penalties at such an alarming rate. Yesterday, the Ravens were flagged for 10 penalties for 102 yards. You deal with a few false starts and holding penalties when you play a backup quarterback and so many young players that have gotten limited action all year. But how do you explain running back Ray Rice's personal foul that took the Ravens out of field-goal range on their first drive? How can you justify guard Bobbie Williams' unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the second quarter that set up a 3rd-and-27? What's the reasoning behind nose tackle Terrence Cody's roughing the passer penalty in the third quarter that contributed to the Bengals' go-ahead field goal? Those were three veterans making the type of decisions that can cost a team a game. My friend and former colleague at The Sun, Kevin Van Valkenburg, who now writes for ESPN Magazine, tweeted out a stat yesterday that indicated that the 2012 Ravens have been called for more 15-yard penalties than any NFL team since 2000. That has to embarrass Harbaugh, who preaches discipline all the time. Harbaugh's 2010 and 2011 teams ranked second and third in franchise history for fewest penalties in a season. The current Ravens will finish the season as the league leader in penalty yards with 1,127, the most in franchise history. They also committed 121 penalties, which puts them near the bottom of the league. If this pattern continues, the Ravens will likely have a very short stay in the playoffs.
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