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Bengals beat Raiders in penalty-filled playoff opener, NFL referees under scrutiny

Jerome Boger and his crew did not have a good game.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers
NFL referee Jerome Boger in action during the fourth quarter of the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. The Chiefs won 42-37.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Las Vegas Raiders to open the 2022 playoffs in what turned out to be a showcase of poor NFL officiating rather than the players on the field. Jerome Boger and his crew were active early and often in this game, much to the dismay of fans and the teams involved.

Perhaps the most significant moment in this close contest was an erroneous whistle resulting in a Bengals touchdown. Joe Burrow appeared to step out of bounds before throwing the ball and someone blew a whistle. According to the NBC broadcast rules analyst, the play should’ve been ruled dead. The NFL did not release a statement during the game but surely will talk to this crew regarding the call after the fact. You can check out the full details of that incident here.

That wasn’t the only sloppy call in this game. Boger could barely get the words out of his mouth on this “illegal formation” call, eventually just making up a word to wrap up the decision.

And then there was a “roughing the passer” penalty in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter as the Raiders were driving for the game-tying touchdown. Derek Carr did get hit in the helmet, but it appeared incidental at best.

There were 14 penalties in the game overall, with a large majority of them coming in the third quarter. There was also a play involving Ja’Marr Chase which resulted in a big gain, but the officials ruled the Raiders called a timeout prior to the ball being snapped.

We’ll see how the NFL reacts after the game but this is yet another example of NFL officials potentially impacting the outcome of a big contest in a negative way.