The Cincinnati Bengals ended a 31-year playoff drought with a 26-19 win over the Las Vegas Raiders. While it was an impressive display by Joe Burrow and company, the team’s win wasn’t the biggest story following the game; officiating dominated much of the narrative before and after the game.
There were questionable calls and long delays caused by discussion between referees all game. It was an ugly display that received a lot of criticism online. The most egregious decision of the night came on a Burrow touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd.
As the quarterback was running towards the sideline, he heaved up a pass to Boyd in the end zone. Right before the pass reached the wide receiver, an official blew the whistle. When an official accidentally blows a whistle during a play, the down has to be replayed, according to the NFL Rulebook. Instead, the referees ruled it a touchdown, which drew the ire of many.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL is not likely to have Jerome Boger’s crew officiate another game this postseason:
Referee Jerome Boger and the crew that worked the AFC wild-card game between the Las Vegas Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals are not expected to officiate again this postseason after their problematic performance Saturday highlighted by a controversial whistle.
The NFL grades officials after each game, and Boger and his crew are not expected to receive high marks for Saturday, when they ruled that a whistle occurred after Cincinnati’s Tyler Boyd caught a touchdown from Joe Burrow – although replays appeared to show otherwise.
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NFL Says Whistle Came After Touchdown
A lot happened in the Raiders-Bengals matchup, but a lot of the focus will be on the referees not bringing back the touchdown after the whistle. While most analysts and fans agree that the whistle was before the play ended, NFL senior vice president of officiating Walt Anderson claimed otherwise.
“We confirmed with the referee and the crew that on that play – they got together and talked – they determined that they had a whistle, but that the whistle for them on the field was blown after the receiver caught the ball,” Anderson said, according to The Athletic’s Paul Dehner.
“That’s correct,” Anderson said. “They did not feel that the whistle was blown before the receiver caught the ball.”
It’s a moot point now but it’s worth watching the video before making a determination.
Raiders Address Officiating
At the end of the day, the Raiders just didn’t do enough to win. Even on the Burrow touchdown in question, there’s no guarantee the team would’ve stopped them from scoring eventually on that drive. Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia wasn’t ready to blame officiating for the loss.
“I think that’s a good crew,” Bisaccia said after the game. “I think there’s a lot of things that went on in the game both ways. … I got enough problems with my job, I can’t do the officiating, too.”
Pro Bowl defensive end Maxx Crosby put the focus on what his team could’ve done better so officiating wasn’t even a factor.
“In the moment, we didn’t know because we heard a whistle,” Crosby said. “The ref said he was out, and then they said it was a touchdown – and then there was no review. So we were just like, ‘Alright,’ so we just kept going. We had our opportunities. We just didn’t capitalize.”