Nov 25, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive back Joselio Hanson (23) forces a fumble against Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (12) during the fourth quarter of the game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Leifheit-US PRESSWIRE

The Inadvertent Whistle Heard Around the World


Everyone is abuzz over the “inadvertent whistle” scandal that occurred in Cincinnati yesterday. For all who were able to see Sunday afternoon’s game that pitted the Cincinnati Bengals and the Oakland Raiders against one another, you were privy to a very controversial call by the regular officiating staff. It was a call that still has fans of the opposing teams arguing and many left scratching their heads.

It was the fourth quarter of action between the two teams. Cincinnati had dominated the first half of the game, and after being shut out in the third quarter, still held the lead 27-10 over Oakland. With 7:31 left on the clock, Andy Dalton dropped back to pass on a 3rd and 6 play. He found Mohamed Sanu on the 25-yard line. In what some thought was an incomplete pass, as Sanu never made a “football move” after the catch, many thought was a fumble after the ball was stripped by Joselio Hanson of the Raiders.

Whichever side of the controversy you are on, while the ball was being ran back for a touchdown by the Raiders’ Tyvon Branch, a whistle was blown by the one of the referees on the field. What was perceived by Raiders fans to be six points on a turnover was perceived as an incomplete pass by Bengals fans. After
the referees huddled up to discuss the matter at hand, it was determined the play would be called dead due to the inadvertent whistle rule.

The rule states:

a. when an official sounds his whistle erroneously while the ball is still in play, the ball becomes dead immediately;

b. if the ball is in player possession, the team in possession may elect to put the ball where it has been declared dead or the replay the down.

When this was announced in the game, to mixed reviews, the Bengals elected to replay the down. This was a break for Cincinnati. If the whistle would have been blown to signify the incomplete pass, the dropped ball would have brought up fourth down. If the play would have been allowed to be a fumble return for a touchdown, the Raiders would have come within ten points of the leading Bengals.

Instead, after a slew on-field chaos that led to three ejections from the game on the re-play of the third down, Andy Dalton hit A.J. Green on a 48 yard passing play. The Bengals were able to finish the drive down the field, eventually hitting Jermaine Gresham in the end zone for another score. Cincinnati was up 34-10 with 3:39 left in the game.

Many are calling the inadvertent whistle a game-changer. I have read all of the arguments on the internet and had a few of my own at the game. As far as I am concerned, if there is a whistle blown, the play is dead. That is what we know, no matter the game or the situation. The play should have been dead when that whistle was blown. The Bengals should have had the ball with fourth down, not third, which would have probably led to a punt. It was blown dead before the recovery. That is only my opinion, though.

Would it have really mattered for the Raiders if the touchdown would have held? Who knows, but the way the game was going for Oakland, probably not. They would have brought the game within ten, but the Bengals would have gotten the ball back and Oakland didn’t have too many answers for the offensive surge of Cincinnati.

Tags: A.J. Green Andy Dalton Bengals Carson Palmer Cincinnati Cincinnati Bengals Inadvertent Whistle Jermaine Gresham Joselio Hanson Mohamed Sanu NFL Oakland Raiders Tyvon Branch