Video: Inadvertent Whistle Before Joe Burrow's TD Pass vs. Raiders Sparks Controversy

Erin WalshJanuary 15, 2022

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws while being pressured by Las Vegas Raiders' Maxx Crosby (98) during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
AP Photo/Jeff Dean

Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals entered halftime of Saturday's AFC Wild Card game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Paul Brown Stadium with a 20-13 lead, but not without a little controversy. 

On a third-and-four toward the end of the first half, Burrow scrambled out of the pocket, rushed toward the sideline, and somehow found Tyler Boyd for a 10-yard touchdown pass. It was an incredible play, but a controversial one as an inadvertent whistle was blown while the ball was in the air. 


JOE BURR-WOW. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RuleTheJungle?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RuleTheJungle</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SuperWildCard?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SuperWildCard</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeyB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JoeyB</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LVvsCIN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LVvsCIN</a> on NBC<br>📱: NFL app <a href="https://t.co/1U4Gq33J61">pic.twitter.com/1U4Gq33J61</a>

Per the NFL rule book, the play should have been blown dead because of the whistle. Instead, the officials ruled a touchdown, and the Bengals went up 20-6. 

Kevin Seifert @SeifertESPN

"when an official sounds the whistle erroneously while the ball is still in play, the ball becomes dead immediately" <a href="https://t.co/bN2VeH1r7m">pic.twitter.com/bN2VeH1r7m</a>

According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the league isn't commenting on the play. NBC's rules expert Terry McAulay noted the play shouldn't have resulted in a touchdown by rule. 

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

The NFL isn't commenting on the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bengals?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bengals</a>' controversial touchdown, deferring to NBC's rules expert Terry McAulay, who noted the call can't be fixed in replay. <br><br>Said McAulay: "They can't have a touchdown on that play, by rule."<br><br>A huge mistake by Jerome Boger's crew.

After the game, it was revealed the referees determined the whistle came after the receiver caught the ball, per NFL senior vice president of officiating Walt Anderson. 

Paul Gutierrez @PGutierrezESPN

The refs said the whistle came "after the receiver caught the ball." <a href="https://t.co/xZmblLnlAs">pic.twitter.com/xZmblLnlAs</a>

Many were quick to share their reactions to the play, in the moment, on social media, including Raiders guard Denzelle Good and several other NFL players. 

Denzelle Good @IBeDG_71

Did they not blow that TD play dead?? That replay was delayed af 🗣🗣🗣🗣

Denzelle Good @IBeDG_71

🗣🗣🗣🗣 <a href="https://t.co/NYkyFo8R13">https://t.co/NYkyFo8R13</a>

Mecole Hardman Jr. @MecoleHardman4

So when the whistle blow the play not dead ?

Kenyan Drake™ 🥋 @KDx32


Brandon King @BrandonKing4787

Did the Raiders think he went out of bounds?? lol

Many fans also weighed in:

x-PLAYOFF BOUND 9-8🦅🦅🦅 @76ers2021champ

Although I’m cheering for the bengals…it isn’t fair to the raiders to hear a whistle, assume the play is dead, and then be told they just gave up a touchdown…if they lose by less than 7 this is gonna be talked about like the saints vs rams nfcc back in 2018

~ @markfm18

Why is no one focusing on why the whistle was blown in the first place? There were no penalty flags and burrow didn’t step out of bounds

. @hater_of_VAR

To be fair it was a mistake to blow the whistle when the ball was already in the end zone. So they made 2 mistakes on that play

RedSox1904Champions @Sox1904Red

Mistake on a mistake. Yes it should have been a replay. No question. But the whistle was so late it didn’t affect the play. If people want to cry about it that’s their business

The Bengals are looking for their first playoff victory in 31 years.