...a call that will keep the Cincinnati Bengals out of the playoffs this season. I know it's misguided to isolate an entire season down to one play, but without that horrible call, the Bucs don't score and Cincinnati wins 13-7. They enter this weekend at 9-6 and with a playoff spot secured.
Then again, we can all name plenty of situations where the Bengals shot themselves in the foot, so the ultimate blame for the way the season has turned out lies with themselves.
1. Oct. 15, Bengals at Buccaneers
And the winner for worst call of the NFL season is ... Mike Carey's indefensible roughing-the-passer penalty on the Bengals' Justin Smith that cost Cincinnati its game at Tampa Bay. With the Bengals leading 13-7 and time winding down, Smith sacked Bucs QB Bruce Gradkowski and forced a fumble that was recovered by Robert Geathers. Ball game. Now obviously this couldn't be roughing the passer because Gradkowski still had the ball. Or could it? Carey ruled that Smith had not been appropriately gentle with the quarterback, awarded Tampa Bay the standard gift set — 15 yards, automatic first down — and the Bucs scored late to win, 14-13. The call led Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis to lament, "I guess you have to cuddle him to the ground."
Indeed. Welcome to today's cuddly NFL.