Midway through the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh, the Bengals converted a third-and-4 and got into Steelers territory. Until a flag came down.
The referee flagged Bengals offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth for illegal hands to the face, bringing the play back. The Bengals, who trailed 24-17 at the time, failed to convert on third-and-14 and had to punt, and a great chance to tie the game disappeared.
The frustrating thing for the Bengals is that Whitworth’s hand slipping up into the face of Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons didn’t really seem to have any impact on the play, but Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he understands that the penalty has to be called.
“With the hands to the face, it’s a foul,” Lewis said. “It’s not needed. You can’t just leave your hand there. He’s got to just drop his hand. By our NFL rules, it’s not anything that affected the play whatsoever. But it is a foul by our rules.”
Lewis seemed more upset by a holding call on Whitworth earlier in the game, noting that “We’ve had that holding before and it’s not holding and it won’t be holding when you get it back [on review from the league office] Tuesday.”
But ultimately, Lewis knows this loss was on his players, not on the officials.