The Bengals and Cardinals played a prime-time thriller. But flag-happy refs proved a game killer, claim several Cincinnati Bengals.
Stalemated at 31 in the final seconds of the game, the Cardinals and Bengals avoided overtime with the aid of the referees. The officials flagged defensive tackle Domata Peko of the Bengals for unsportsmanlike conduct for simulating the snap count. Rather than try a kick from the same distance Scott Norwood went wide right, Chandler Catanzaro swished a 32-yard layup with the help of the fifteen-yard penalty.
Catanzaro boasts a perfect 15-for-15 record in kicks 40 yards or less this season. Above 40, he is a pedestrian 4-for-6.
“I don’t think I have ever seen that call, ever since I have been in the NFL,” 10-year veteran Peko maintained. “We had way too many penalties. That was the name of the game. We were fighting the refs and the Cardinals.”
The officials meted out ten penalties to the Bengals, who lost more than 100 yards of ground due to the flags. The Bengals dropped to 8-2 and the Cardinals improved to 8-2 on the 34-31 Arizona win.
Peko claims he merely repeated the phrase “get set” to his teammates. Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, who fulfilled a revenge fantasy in slaying his former team, called Peko’s antics a “real obvious” attempt to confuse the offense.
“I trust what our player did and said,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis told the media. “He’s alerting a run and not anything to do with what they’re saying. I don’t see how they make that call at that point in the game like that. I trust our guy to be honest with me.”