The Bengals looked well on their way to blowing out the Ravens on Sunday after taking a 20-0 lead toward the end of the first half.
On 4th-and-1 from the Baltimore 2-yard line, with Cincinnati leading 14-0, Andy Dalton dropped back and hit tight end Tyler Eifert right at the goal line for what would have been a 1st down. But, Eifert lunged for the end zone and as has he has heading to the ground he lost the ball after it had broken the plane.
The referees ruled it a touchdown, which gave the Bengals a 20-0 lead, and with the extra point coming, it looked like they would take a 21-0 lead into halftime.
That was until the refs reviewed the play, as all scoring plays are reviewed and referee Walt Anderson announced the play had been overturned and the pass was incomplete because Eifert didn't maintain possession of the ball going to the ground, even though it appeared he had possession and then made a football move by diving toward the end zone.
The NFL still can’t figure out what a catch is: http://t.co/J32Twa62at pic.twitter.com/5eWPbDkPhy— SB Nation (@SBNation) September 27, 2015
That helped lead to momentum swinging in favor of the Ravens as they went on to score 17 unanswered points and took a three-point lead in the fourth quarter. Both teams would then trade scores before Cincinnati rallied for the win, but this was still a big talking point after the game. NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino has since told ESPN's Coley Harvey that this was the correct ruling.
"He has to maintain control all the way to the ground," Blandino said. "When you're going to the ground, you have to hold on to it regardless of any reach."
Marvin Lewis actually agreed with the call and has even stressed the rules of what is and isn't a catch to his players so this doesn't happen.
"You have to possess the football and give it to the official," Lewis said. "That’s what I tell our guys all the time. Reaching for the goal line, if you haven’t completed the catch, you’re not a runner yet. So that’s what they deemed, he wasn’t a runner yet. He has to hold onto the football. It’s not a rule. It’s an interpretation, so you have to make sure that you possess the ball through the ground. If you are catching the football, and in the act of getting knocked to the ground, you’ve got to possess the football. If you understand it, plain and simple like that, you’ll say that’s incomplete."
As for Eifert himself, he didn't really understand why his TD was overturned.
"I just reached it over. I think his foot hit it out after it had already crossed the plane," Eifert said. "I honestly don’t know the rule. I thought it was a touchdown, but I guess it wasn’t."
In the end, this will hopefully be a lesson for the Bengals so that is doesn't end up actually costing them a game later on. This same kind of play cost the Cowboys a playoff win against the Packers last year, but it thankfully didn't even cost the Bengals a regular-season game. It's clear Lewis understands the rule and what his players must do to avoid breaking it again.