NFL tries to explain premature whistle in Bengals-Raiders wild-card game, confuses matter further instead

The play should have been dead, but the discourse is very much alive.

In the second quarter of Saturday’s wild-card playoff matchup between the Bengals and Raiders, Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow threw a touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd that came with drama: A whistle blew as the ball was in the air before it hit at Boyd’s hands, which may have indicated that a running Burrow was out of bounds before the ball was thrown.

After much confusion and discussion by the umpires, the play stood and the touchdown counted, much to the dismay of the Raiders and their fans.

By rule, an inadvertent (“erroneous” in the rules) whistle means that the play does not count and the down must be replayed. Those are not things that the crew ruled on in the field.

What was the explanation of the NFL?

After the game, NFL senior vice president of officiating Walt Anderson tried to explain what exactly happened on the field, but instead further complicated matters:

The main conclusion is that the referees believe that the whistle was blown. after Boyd had possession. Anderson’s explanation:

We confirmed with the umpire and the team that on that play, they met and talked, they determined that they had a whistle, but that the whistle for them on the field was blown after the catcher caught the ball. …

They didn’t feel the whistle blow before the catcher caught the ball.

Anderson also dodged a question about which referee blew the whistle. When pressed, he continues to dodge.

Could repetition have been used?

It is important to note that an erroneously sounding whistle is not serviceable. That means that even though the scoring play was reviewed (as all scoring plays are), the whistle would not have been a component of the review process.

It’s also important to note that sound exists, and while there may be a slight delay between what happened on the field and what went through the tube, the most telling thing is that some Raiders players seemed to think the play was dead. while the ball it was in the air.

Two quarters, and a few more questionable calls, later, the game was over, with the Bengals beating the Raiders 26-19, earning their spot in the divisional round next weekend.

Officials may want to get out of Cincinnati faster.