Last week, the Bengals benefited from a controversial call against the Raiders. This week, one went against them against the Titans.
In the third quarter of the AFC divisional round playoff game, Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow threw a pass to running back Samaje Perine that Perine dropped and tipped into the air. As the ball was coming down, it appeared to touch the ground as it was being intercepted by Tennessee safety Amani Hooker.
Officials reviewed the play, which was ruled a turnover, and upheld the ruling on the field, giving the Titans possession.
Two plays later, Titans QB Ryan Tannehill found A.J. Brown at the goal line and the star wideout made a one-handed grab to haul in the game-tying touchdown pass. The PAT made the score 16-16 with 15 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Bengals went on to win 19-16. Evan McPherson kicked a field goal as time expired.
NFL rules state that if a player secures control of the ball before it hits the ground and maintains control after the ball hits the ground, then it is a catch or an interception. There was no question on replay that Hooker maintained control after the ball hit the ground; the only question was whether the ball hitting the ground assisted in the catch. The ball appeared to make contact with the turf the instant Hooker picked up the ball.
It was Burrow’s first interception since Dec. 5 against the Chargers.
The interception represented a major turnaround for a team that was in desperate need of one. Tannehill had already thrown two interceptions and the Titans were trailing 16-9.