With 10:51 remaining in the first quarter against the New York Giants, Eli Manning fires the first down pass to Domenik Hixon's slant route. Rey Maualuga and Adam Jones combined to make the tackle, limiting Hixon's reception to an eight-yard gain. When we say "combined on the tackle", it translates into he was crushed. Or so it appeared. Officials threw a flag for unnecessary roughness, sustaining a drive that failed to generate another first down.
According to Geoff Hobson at Bengals.com, Maualuga appealed a $15,000 fine levied by the NFL for the hit. It wasn't a helmet-to-helmet hit; rather hitting a defenseless receiver.
Since we're using old school screen prints, we'll have to describe our interpretation of what we think was a slight of hand, so to speak. As soon as Maualuga made contact with Hixon, Adam Jones, already wrapped around Hixon, yanked the receiver back making it appear that Maualuga's hit had greater impact.
We get why officials would call it; especially if they just noticed the hit without accounting for Jones behind Hixon. And based on how the league levied a devastating penalty on Ravens safety Ed Reed (which was later reduced to a fine) earlier this week, they're just not in the mood for excuses.