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NFL says Martavis Bryant touchdown should not have counted; Ryan Shazier hit was legal

Say what? Martavis Bryant's catch looked great, but it should not have counted, but Ryan Shazier's hit on Giovani Bernard was legal.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Just when the pain of last Saturday's debacle may have begun to subside, the Bengals and their fans are once again having salt poured into their wounds.

As if that gut-wrenching loss at the hands of Pittsburgh wasn't bad enough, the NFL today revealed that one of the game's biggest plays that went in favor of the Steelers should not have. During the third quarter with Pittsburgh leading 9-0 and in the red zone, Ben Roethlisberger fired a pass for Martavis Bryant in the back of the end zone that he pulled in but pinning it towards his butt.

To be honest, I thought it was a touchdown, but I'm not the NFL, who says this in fact was not a score and should not have counted.

NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino says in his mind the Bryant catch should not have been a catch but also said because it was initially ruled a catch, there wasn't enough to overturn it via instant replay.

While that play actually resulted in points, the play Bengals fans were far more upset about was the hit linebacker Ryan Shazier put on running back Giovani Bernard. What appeared to be an obvious targeting call was not flagged, even though Bernard left the game due to the hit with a concussion.

However, Blandino says this was not targeting because Bernard was, "not a defenseless receiver at the time of contact."


That looks like obvious targeting of Bernard's helmet by Shazier, but Blandino doesn't see it that way.

"There’s three elements to that rule," Blandino said. "You have to line up your opponent, you have to lower your head, and you have to make forcible contact with the very top of the helmet. The key issue here is the line up, and when we’re talking about angles, and the players are moving at different angles, where you have Bernard is moving in this direction, Shazier is moving in this direction, then we don’t have the line up. You’re really dealing with the players moving in the same direction towards each other when this rule would apply. The theory being, when players are moving at angles, they don’t have as much opportunity to avoid that contact. That’s where the rule does not apply."

Blandino did go on to admit the NFL is, "concerned with players lowering their head. We don’t want players to lower their head to initiate contact."

That makes it sound like he wasn't 100-percent confident this wasn't worthy of a personal foul penalty and that the rule should possibly be further looked into.

At the end of the day, the Bengals still beat themselves Saturday night, but maybe they shouldn't have had the chance to beat themselves if not for several 'questionable' calls going against them.