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Sunday, December 8, 2013
Controversial TD ruled for Bengals

By Coley Harvey
ESPN.com

CINCINNATI -- The end of the first half of Sunday's game between the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals featured more controversy for embattled referee Jeff Triplette and his officiating crew.

One week after a gaffe involving the chain gang at the New York Giants-Washington Redskins game, Triplette overturned a reviewed play Sunday that appeared to be wrong. It resulted in a touchdown for the Bengals, giving Cincinnati a two-score halftime lead.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis
BenJarvus Green-Ellis was awarded a controversial touchdown when officials, after reviewing a replay, ruled he scored against the Colts.

When asked about the ruling after the game, Triplette remained convinced the right determination was ultimately made.

With 1:14 remaining in the second quarter, the Bengals had the ball on the Colts' 1-yard line on fourth down.

After taking a timeout to make sure they wanted to go for it, Bengals coaches sent out their goal-line unit, headed by defensive tackle Domata Peko, who served as an eligible blocking fullback. When the play began, Peko opened a hole to the right, and halfback BenJarvus Green-Ellis started following it.

As Green-Ellis made it through the hole, though, Colts defensive tackle Josh Chapman broke through the line of scrimmage and appeared to make contact with Green-Ellis' foot with an outstretched hand. Green-Ellis stumbled just after that, and fell forward as far as he could before going down. His momentum took him about six inches short of the goal line.

Originally, side judges ruled Green-Ellis down on the 1, which would have resulted in a turnover for the Bengals. But since the play came within the final two minutes of the half, it was submitted for booth review.

After about five minutes of looking at the play, the booth overturned it. Green-Ellis had scored, Triplette announced.

"There was discussion about whether the runner was touched down at the goal line or not," Triplette said to a pool reporter. "When we reviewed the video at the goal line, there was nobody touching him there, and then he bounced into the end zone."

That disputes what Chapman said from the Colts' locker room.

"He was definitely down. I hit his foot when I came through," Chapman said. "The call is the call, but just have to play through it. I was surprised [when the call was reversed] because I thought I had him. But football is football."

Green-Ellis refused to acknowledge after the game whether he was touched by Chapman, and if that ended up causing him to trip.

Peko had no idea what occurred behind him.

"It was like the Red Sea, it was wide open," Peko said of the hole to the end zone. "I guess he tripped up a little. He probably saw the wide-open hole. I don't know what happened."

Instead of the Bengals going into halftime with a seven-point lead, they ended up getting the touchdown, the point-after conversion and held the Colts on their ensuing drive to take a 14-0 lead.

All reviewed plays must have indisputable visual evidence in order to be overturned. In this case, there seemed to be real doubt as to whether Green-Ellis was touched or not.

"There was nobody that touched him at the goal line," Triplette continued, asked about the replay he saw. "We looked at the goal line. [Those] were the shots that we looked at."

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis backed Triplette's belief that Green-Ellis had scored.

"He wasn't touched," Lewis said, explaining that he wasn't surprised by the reversal.

Last week at Washington, Triplette's crew baffled the football community when it mistakenly awarded the Redskins with a first down during a crucial late-game drive.

Instead of first-and-10, it should have been third-and-short. A play was run following the awarding of the first down. Just after that play, the officials went back and negated the play, instead changing the yard markers to read fourth-and-1. After the game, Triplette said despite his signaling for a third-and-short, the chain gang moved incorrectly on the "first down."