NFL on Bengals' controversial TD vs. Raiders: Referees determined whistle came after catch

The Cincinnati Bengals' first playoff win in over 30 years was not without controversy.

There appeared to be an inadvertent whistle on Joe Burrow's first-half touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd, and, by rule, a down is supposed to be replayed if a whistle is blown inadvertently during a play. That did not happen Saturday as the TD stood in the Bengals' eventual 26-19 wild-card win over the Las Vegas Raiders.

NFL senior VP of officiating Walt Anderson, however, said in a postgame pool report that the officials on the field determined the whistle came after Boyd's touchdown catch.

"We confirmed with the referee and the crew that on that play -- they got together and talked -- they determined that they had a whistle, but that the whistle for them on the field was blown after the receiver caught the ball," Anderson told The Athletic's Paul Dehner Jr.

The NFL initially deferred comment on the play to NBC rules expert and former NFL referee Terry McAulay, who said "they can't have a touchdown on that play, by rule."

Anderson was asked if the officials determined that the whistle did not occur while Burrow's pass was in the air.

"That's correct," Anderson said. "They did not feel that the whistle was blown before the receiver caught the ball."

Anderson confirmed that an official on the field blew the inadvertent whistle but said that he did not know who specifically blew the whistle.

"No," Anderson said. "The ruling on the field was a touchdown. But we still have to confirm any reviewable aspect of the play. So, we did confirm that the pass was thrown before the quarterback stepped out of bounds. We also determined that the pass was caught in the end zone by the receiver, who was not out of bounds."

NFL rules prohibit an inadvertent whistle from being reviewed.

After the game Raiders interim head coach Rick Bisaccia downplayed the circumstances surrounding the Boyd touchdown catch.

"I think that's a good crew," Bisaccia said. "I think there's a lot of things that went on in the game both ways. ... I got enough problems with my job, I can't do the officiating, too."

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