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NFL: Officials right not to overturn Gio Bernard fumble

The Cincinnati Bengals are one-and-done in the playoffs -- again -- and Andy Dalton has emerged as the primary scapegoat for the team's latest January failing.

This is not totally unjust. Dalton morphed into a red-haired turnover robot in the second half against the San Diego Chargers, removing any opportunity for a Bengals comeback.

That said, the game's biggest turnover had nothing to do with the quarterback. A red-zone fumble by running back Giovani Bernard late in the second quarter wiped away an excellent scoring opportunity and effectively swung the game.

On the play, Chargers linebacker Donald Butler stripped Bernard from behind moments after he caught a Dalton pass over the middle. Bolts cornerback Richard Marshall quickly scooped up the loose ball. The Bengals challenged the play, believing that Bernard did not maintain possession long enough to warrant a catch and fumble. After a lengthy review, the call on the field stood.

Dean Blandino, the NFL's vice president of officiating, backed the final ruling on the field during a Tuesday appearance on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access."

"You'll see here, Bernard's going to catch it, turn, take a couple of steps and then get hit," Blandino, holding his now signature Xbox controller, explained to NFL Media's Amber Theoharis. "Just as the third foot is coming down, he's going to get hit and lose the football. Again, it's close.

"The referee ruled stands, which means he didn't have enough evidence to overturn the ruling on the field. And we agree, because Bernard had control, two feet and it's questionable as to whether he had it long enough. And whenever it's questionable, we stay with the ruling on the field."

The latest "Around The League Podcast" featured a special in-studio visit from Bears star Brandon Marshall.

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