Bengals fans will always complain about officiating when they play against the Steelers, and it’s often for good reason. It always seems like the officials let the Steelers get away with whatever they can, while they call non-existent penalties on the Bengals.
Well this time, Bengals fans are not the only ones complaining. Dozens of fans and sports personalities are all claiming the Steeler won on a blown call. Even SB Nation’s resident Steelers fan admitted the Bengals were screwed...
Needing a defensive stop with a brutally banged-up secondary and less than two minutes to go, the Bengals defense was holding onto a one-point lead late in the game. Ben Roethlisberger connected with Antonio Brown on a catch-and-run for 31 yards. That score would decide the game, as the Bengals would lose 28-21. But it appears that the Steelers were aided by an illegal block.
Steelers wide receiver Justin Hunter appears to have blocked cornerback Tony McRae, keeping McRae out of Brown’s way to the end zone. While picks are sometimes permissible if the contact looks incidental, Hunter had clearly had no intention of running a route on that play.
In short, because Hunter kept blocking well after the ball was thrown, the officials should have called pass interference.
Great play by Antonio Brown to win the game for the Steelers. But man, that wasn't a pick, it was a block by Justin Hunter.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 14, 2018
Then re-watch it. Not only was the defensive "holding" on the Bengals a phantom call, there was a clear pick (offensive PI) on AB's TD. Some pure Doneghy shit going on here.— Dave Biddle (@davebiddle) October 14, 2018
Steelers get away with pick play FTW. They should thank the refs. Bengals should’ve won that game.— Max Kellerman (@maxkellerman) October 14, 2018
The pick might not have changed the outcome of the game if called. The Steelers had two timeouts, so they probably would have been able to kick a field goal as time expired and win the game regardless. Though, Chris Boswell has been shaky this year.
Still, it would be nice if the officials called a fair game in this series for once. This was just one of many questionable calls throughout the contest in a game in which the Bengals were hit hard with injuries.
UPDATE: NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Al Riveron defended his officials’ call, saying a Bengals defender initiated the contact, which is VERY iffy to say.
This, from a Steelers fan...
Update 2: Veteran NFL referee Terry McAulay who now works for NBC and Sunday Night Football says the play should have resulted in a foul on the Steelers.
My thoughts on Pit/Cin TD: The defender is sliding over to cover AB and puts his hands up to protect himself from contact. The offensive player squares up and engages/blocks the defender. Contact clearly occurs more than a yard beyond the line. This should be a foul.— Terry McAulay (@SNFRules) October 15, 2018
Update 3: On Monday, Marvin Lewis said he believes it should have been a penalty. But added, “it wasn’t called and that’s all that matters.”