Raiders on wrong side of whistle decide playoff loss

CINCINNATI — The Bengals scored a touchdown late in the first half of the AFC’s 26-19 victory Saturday 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 caught during the episode.

Several Raiders defensive players appeared to drop out of play at this point, but it was ruled a touchdown after a lengthy discussion.

In the event of an erroneous whistle during a play, NFL rules require the down to be replayed.

This does not happen.

Walt Anderson, NFL senior vice president of officiating, confirmed the whistle was blown by one of the on-field officials, but said the team determined he hadn’t. not rung before the receiver caught the ball.

Reruns seemed to contradict that decision.

Erroneous whistles, however, are not subject to review. The game was checked in the cabin to confirm that Burrow was still in bounds when he threw and Boyd caught.

It was correctly confirmed.

Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby was chasing Burrow as he tossed the ball near the sideline. The whistle seemed to sound because the nearest official thought Burrow was out of bounds before releasing the pitch.

Crosby said he heard the whistle and still doesn’t know why officials decided to count the touchdown.

“I heard it and thought it was out,” Crosby said. “But I didn’t see a replay or anything like that. They got on the ball and broke it, so I really can’t say because I didn’t see a replay. At the time, we didn’t know because we heard a whistle. The ref said he was out, 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.

“It’s a good crew,” he said. “There were a lot of things that went both ways, so I have no problem with the refereeing. I have enough problems with my job; I can’t arbitrate either.

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

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

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

“When you have three holds (calls) on one shot, it’s tough,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “They saw something. I don’t see it because my back is turned. It sucks that it’s like that. You prefer decisions to be made on the pitch with football. I have nothing bad to say about the referees, though.

Contact Adam Hill at To follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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