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Differing viewpoints on late call in Cardinals-Bengals game

It wouldn’t be a primetime NFL game without some sort of officiating controversy, now would it?

Folks in Cincinnati (namely Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis) were none too pleased with a penalty slapped on defensive tackle Domata Peko in the closing seconds of the Arizona Cardinals’ 34-31 win over the Bengals Sunday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.

With the clock winding down and the Cardinals in field goal range, there was movement on the line. Right guard Ted Larsen flinched, stood up and immediately pointed to Peko. So did the umpire, Bryan Neale, who ruled Peko was calling out signals in hopes of inducing a false start. That’s unsportsmanlike conduct, and the Cardinals got a half-the-distance penalty, making Chandler Catanzaro’s 47-yard field goal attempt a 32-yarder. Catanzaro nailed it and the Cardinals improved to 8-2.

But had the call gone the other way and ruled a false start on Larsen, a ten-second run-off would have occurred and the game would have gone to overtime.

“Who knows, they get the phantom call there at the end, it’s kind of ridiculous,” Lewis said after the game, adding he believes his own player, Peko, who said he did nothing wrong.

“I trust what our player did and said. 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.”

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer disagreed.

“The ref was right there,” he said. “They obviously said the snap count and that’s a 15-yarder.”

The man who had to be breathing the heaviest after the play was Larsen, who could have cost his team the game had the call gone against him.

Needless to say, the veteran was a little nervous in those few seconds.

“I don’t think I have ever seen that call made ever since I have been in the NFL,” Peko said. “It is just one of those days. I don’t know. We had way too many penalties today. I think that was the name of the game, we were fighting the refs and fighting the Cardinals.”

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