BALTIMORE — Sitting alone in the visitors locker room at M&T Bank Stadium and watching his team try to claw their way back from a moderate deficit in the fourth quarter, Phillip Lindsay was where he least wanted to be.
In a calamitous sequence of events in the second quarter as the Broncos tried to retake the lead, Lindsay had chased a loose fumble and dove into a dogpile hoping to recover the ball to keep the Broncos on the cusp of driving into the red zone. In the chaos, the referees saw Lindsay's arm swinging in a punching motion. They flagged him for unsportsmanlike conduct and disqualified him from the game.
And so as the Broncos' fortunes faded, Lindsay could do nothing but watch.
"I definitely feel like I let my team down," Lindsay said after the game.
However, Lindsay maintains that he did not throw any punches in the pile. Rather, the swinging motion of his arms was him trying to free the ball from the scrum.
"The ball ended up squirting back out. Another Raven dude jumped on the pile, so I went there. … You try to make a play for your team, but we're right there on the 34-yard line, and once I tried to hit the ball out, it looked like I was swinging at somebody."
As Head Coach Vance Joseph said in his postgame press conference, the impact was severe particularly because of the role Lindsay has not only on offense, but also on special teams.
"He's obviously a big part of what we do offensively," Joseph said. "He's our double-returner today — our kickoff and punt returner today. So in losing him, that's a big deal, plus the penalty yards after that."
And regardless of the reason why the incident occurred, Lindsay said he still feels disappointed in the outcome his actions caused.
"I feel horrible," Lindsay said. "I feel horrible, because I'm not out there with my team. And that's my fault. That's something I'm going to learn from. It's never going to happen again."
The lesson from this unfortunate episode, Lindsay said, is that he must have more awareness.
"The lesson is to be smart, to understand that it is about being smart," he said. "I'm fighting for my teammates, and I can't do that if I'm sitting here in the locker room."
Photos from Broncos team photographers of game action during the Broncos' game against the Ravens.