Breaking down 'inadvertent whistle'

November 25, 2012, 11:44 pm
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CINCINNATI -- To be sure, the "inadvertent whistle" did not cost the Raiders the game. Not when the final score was 34-10 in favor of the host Cincinnati Bengals.But the flashpoint of when the referees lost control of this contest did not help matters much. And if the Raiders are able to play it right, they can use the circumstances that surrounded it as a springboard, of sorts, for the rest of what many already see as another lost season.Here's what happened, with 7:31 remaining in the game: Cincinnati faced a 3rd and 6 at their own 20-yard line when Andy Dalton found Mohamed Sanu near the left sideline at the 25-yard line. Joselio Hanson hit Sanu immediately and stripped the ball free, and before it went out of bounds, a hustling Hanson tapped the ball to keep it in play. Tyvon Branch scooped it up and ran it in for a touchdown that, with a made extra-point, would have gotten the Raiders to within 27-17.ExceptPaul G's Instant Replay: Bengals 34, Raiders 10
The referees huddled and tried to figure out what exactly had happened. After several minutes, the ruling was that an inadvertent whistle had blown the play dead and by rule, the Bengals could either A) take possession of the ball where the play was ruled dead, which would have made it 4th and 1, or B) play the down over.Of course the Bengals chose the latter, and drove down for a touchdown.
"I was unaware that a ruling of an inadvertent whistle would give them the opportunity to choose what they wanted to do," said Raiders rookie coach Dennis Allen. "It was unfortunate."Asked if he could give an "honest assessment" of the play without getting in trouble with the league, Allen shook his head."Probably not," he said.Hanson said the inadvertent whistle call was also a first for him."Never in my life," he said. "I thought it was a bad call. At least it's (supposed) to be fourth down. You don't give a team another chance to get the first down."I felt that if we would have gotten that touchdown, then anything can happen."But it did not, obviously."I didn't see the play, so I don't know what happened," said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. "All I saw was the ball on the ground and them picking it up. So in my opinion, it was a big break to get the opportunity to go back at it again and them not having the ball there, or a touchdown. There were still seven minutes to go in the game."A review of the film showed that line judge Julian Mapp was standing over the play and a whistle blew just as the ball was about to go out of bounds, but before Hanson actually slapped it to keep it from going out. Perhaps the ref blew the whistle early and in anticipation of the ball going out?The ref's mistake in blowing an inadvertent whistle did not reward the defense.In any event, former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira Tweeted "that play should have been ruled incomplete pass in the first place," which would have made it 4th and 6.But then the melee that ensued probably would not have happened.