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NFL defends call on Bengals touchdown after whistle

CINCINNATI — The Bengals scored a touchdown late in the first half of Saturday’s 26-19 AFC wild-card victory over the Raiders that probably shouldn’t have counted.

As quarterback Joe Burrow’s pass sailed through the air and landed in the arms of wide receiver Tyler Boyd in the back of the end zone, an official’s whistle was clearly picked up on the broadcast.

Several Raiders defensive players appeared to give up on the play at that point, but it was ruled a touchdown after a lengthy discussion

In the case of an erroneous whistle during the course of a play, NFL rules call for the down to be replayed.

That didn’t happen.

Walt Anderson, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, confirmed the whistle was blown by one of the on-field officials, but said that the crew determined it didn’t blow until after the receiver caught the ball.

Replays appeared to contradict that decision.

Erroneous whistles, however, are not subject to review. The play was checked in the booth to confirm Burrow was still in bounds when he made the throw and that Boyd made the catch.

It was correctly upheld.

Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby was chasing Burrow as he released the ball near the sideline. The whistle appeared to blow because the nearest official thought Burrow stepped out of bounds before releasing the throw.

Crosby said he heard the whistle and is still unclear why the officials decided to count the touchdown.

“I heard it, and I thought he was out,” Crosby said. “But I didn’t see a replay or anything like that. They got on the ball and snapped it, so I really can’t say because I didn’t see a replay. In the moment, we didn’t know because we heard a whistle. The ref said he was out, and then they said it was a touchdown. And then there was no review.”

Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia didn’t blame the call for the loss.

“That’s a good crew,” he said. “There were a lot of things that went on both ways, so I’ve got no problem with the officiating. I’ve got enough problems with my job; I can’t do the officiating, too.”

While the play was the most controversial officiating moment of the game, the officials played a prominent role throughout the day.

Both teams were called for seven penalties, and there were several lengthy discussions about various decisions.

On one play, the Raiders were finally granted a defensive timeout well after a big play by Cincinnati when it appeared cornerback Casey Hayward and Bisaccia were signaling for the stoppage because the Raiders had too many players on the field.

“When you have three holding (calls) on one drive, it’s tough,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “They saw something. I don’t see it because I have my back turned. It sucks for it to be that way. You’d rather the decisions be made on the field with the football. I have nothing bad to say about the refs, though.”

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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