As the clock wound down in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s game, the Cardinals were trying to spike the ball to stop the clock and set up a 47-yard field goal to win the game when guard Ted Larsen stood up ahead of the snap amid a flurry of flags.
If it was a false start, there would be a 10-second runoff that sent the game to overtime. The call was not on the Cardinals, however. It was an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko for simulating offensive signals, which meant Chandler Catanzaro was 15 yards closer when he nailed the game-winner.
After the game, Peko said that he was yelling to his teammates to “get set” and wondered if “the bass in my voice” made it sound like he was trying to mimic Carson Palmer’s snap count. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis called the penalty on Peko a “phantom call” and “kind of ridiculous.”
“I trust what our player did and said,” Lewis said, via ESPN.com. “He’s alerting a run and not anything to do with what they’re saying. I don’t see how they make that call at that point in the game like that. I trust our guy to be honest with me.”
Palmer said it was “real obvious” that Peko was trying to simulate the snap count, but Larsen was well aware of how close it was to going the other way. He said “[expletive] yes” when asked if he was worried that he had committed a false start.
“I guess they are familiar with Carson’s snap count, and they timed it up right,” Larsen said, via the team’s website. “It’s really a situation where you want to err on the side of not [false starting]. That could have easily been a 10-second runoff.”
It wasn’t and the Cardinals got to celebrate a second straight close win on Sunday night.