Down eight points and driving with a chance to tie, Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd lost a fumble on a hit from ageless linebacker James Harrison. It appeared on replay that Boyd's knee was down when the ball came loose, but the officials allowed the play to stand. That ruling effectively eliminated any chance of a Cincinnati comeback and the Steelers secured the 24-16 victory.
The close decision, one that could decide the AFC North at the end of the season, warranted an explanation from NFL senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino.
Blandino first explains that the result of the play initially is a catch because Boyd got two feet down and made a football move. When it came to determining whether Boyd's knee was down before the ball comes out, Blandino says that, from multiple angles, it is "not definitive" that the knee is down. To overturn the ruling on the field, it must be "clear and obvious" that Boyd was down, but Blandino says that is not the case here. Therefore, the call stood.
The inconclusive nature of the play may frustrate Bengals players, coaches and fans, but as Blandino explained, without clear proof otherwise, that's often how these calls go. The only thing to do now is move on.
"I was told it was down even by the officials on our sideline, but it didn't obviously," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis added after the game. "They didn't see it that way overall and that's all that matters."