Last week, the Bengals benefited from a controversial call against the Raiders. This week, he 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 went airborne. As the ball went down, it appeared to hit the ground when it was intercepted by Tennessee safety Amani Hooker.
Officials reviewed the play, which was ruled a loss of possession, and upheld the decision on the field, giving the Titans possession.
Two plays later, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill found AJ Brown at the goal line and the star receiver made a one-handed grab to carry the game-tying touchdown pass. The PAT made the score 16-16 with 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The Bengals won 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 interception. There was no doubt in the replay that Hooker remained in control after the ball hit the ground; the only question was whether the ball hitting the ground helped in the reception. The ball appeared to make contact with the turf the instant Hooker picked it up.
It was Burrow’s first interception since Dec. 5 against the Chargers.
The interception represented a huge turnaround for a team that desperately needed one. Tannehill had already thrown two interceptions and the Titans trailed 16-9.