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Bad Beats

   by Ben Burns - 01/18/2010

What was Ray Lewis supposed to do?

Mike Preston, a Ravens writer for the Baltimore Sun, called Ray Lewis’ vicious hit on Colts’ wide receiver Austin Collie a “death blow” or “kill shot.”

“It was a cheap shot, and Lewis had already done this two or three times this season,” wrote Preston. “It's usually done on purpose and delivered under the chin, where it can cause serious damage.”

That’s a huge exaggeration, but it’s easy to see both sides of the argument.

Here is the video of Lewis’ hit on Collie. It’s at the 2:15 point.

We banged on Lewis earlier in the year for an unnecessary hit on Chad Ochocinco. Lewis’ machismo pops up way too often, and it costs his team. He’s one of the baddest dudes in the league, and everyone knows it. Why does he have to try to prove it every game?

But in this case, we’re not sure what Lewis was supposed to do. Collie is diving head first to make the catch. He caught the ball at his chest, so ideally that’s where Lewis would like to hit him. That’s easier said than done, of course.

If Lewis doesn’t hit him, it’s a touchdown. His only chance is to jar the ball loose and hope the call is not made.

On the other hand, there was helmet-to-helmet contact. It doesn’t matter how minimal or incidental it is, players’ safety is obviously of the utmost importance. If there is risk of a helmet-to-helmet hit, maybe the defender will just have to concede the touchdown.

But you can’t ask a defender in the middle of a play to quickly assess the risk before delivering a hit.

The end result was the same: Three plays after Lewis’ penalty, the Colts scored to take a 17-3 lead, just like they would have Lewis not attempted to hit Collie.

Which side of Lewis’ controversial hit are you on? Hopefully, not Collie’s.

Our condolences got out to …

Cleveland backers: The Cavs were one-point underdogs at Utah late Thursday night. In a back-and-forth game, Cleveland led by two with five seconds left. But that was plenty of time for Utah rookie Sundiata Gaines to hit his first career 3-pointer, a game-winner that had Cavs backers settling for a push.

Louisville backers: The Cardinals opened as small favorite, but were getting points at most books before Saturday’s tip-off at Pittsburgh. It was pretty clear why oddsmakers made Louisville the favorite. The Cardinals led throughout the game and looked to be in good shape, up five with 34 seconds to play. But Rick Pitino’s team hit just 1 of 5 free throws in the final minute and ended up losing 82-77 in overtime.

"Outside of Duke and Christian Laettner, this is the worst loss I've experienced, watching a team play so well and put itself in a position to win," Pitino told reporters.

Clemson backers: Favored by five at North Carolina State, the Tigers opened up a 17-point lead at halftime, only to have the Wolf Pack come all the way back in the second. Remember, Clemson also blew a huge lead in a loss to Illinois. This time, they had just enough to hold on for a three-point victory.

Suns money-liners: In Atlanta on Friday, Phoenix led by four with 10 seconds to play. Two Suns mishandled a rebound off a Josh Smith missed free throw, and Jamal Crawford wound up with an offensive rebound and open layup to cut the lead to one. Smith made his first free throw.

The Hawks immediately fouled, sending Amare Stoudemire to the line with just three seconds left. Stoudemire missed one of two free throws, putting the Suns back up two. The Hawks called timeout and advanced the ball to halfcourt.

They inbounded to Crawford who took a couple dribbles and rose up over Jared Dudley and drilled a deep 3-pointer to give the Hawks an improbable 102-101 win.

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