The NFL said Monday that referee Red Cashion and his crew erred by failing to give Cincinnati another play after a field goal had been negated by a penalty at the end of the first half of the Bengals' 24-7 loss to Buffalo on Sunday.
The situation arose with the Bills leading 10-0 and no time left on the clock after a facemask penalty on Buffalo's Bruce Smith. NFL rules specify that a half can't end on a defensive penalty, and the Bengals' Jim Breech kicked an apparent 26-yard field goal to cut the margin to 10-3.
But there was a penalty on the play and the Bengals, thinking it was offside against the Bills, ran off the field, assuming the field goal would count.
Cashion, however, ruled that two Cincinnati linemen had moved, creating a false start. He nullified the field goal and ruled the half over.
But after a review of the play by Art McNally, the supervisor of officials, the league said the false start negated the play, that the ball should have been marked back five yards and the Bengals given another play because the penalty against Smith was still operative.
Bengal Coach Sam Wyche, however, continued to protest the call rather than the effect.
"I've run the film back 1,000 times. Our guy did not move before the ball," Wyche said. "I disagree with it obviously, but I respect the referee's judgment."
Wyche said said he was more concerned about a ruling that James Brooks had fumbled early in the third quarter, a play that led to a Buffalo touchdown two plays later.
"Instead of 10-3, the game became 17-0," Wyche said. "But we got beat on that ballgame. The Buffalo Bills outplayed us."