PHOENIX, Ariz. - The Bengals were either busted or they got a bum rap.
Arizona's Carson Palmer was about to spike the ball with a six seconds left, bringing Chandler Catanzaro on for a long field goal to break the 31-31 tie Sunday night when right guard Ted Larsen jumped out of his stance.
Because a false start would lead to a 10-second runoff, the Bengals thought they were headed for overtime, but the umpire immediately ran to the referee and told him Cincinnati's Domata Peko had popped off, simulating the snap count.
Peko protested that he was just calling out instructions to his teammates.
Neale, who had moved from the offensive backfield to the defensive backfield after the two-minute warning as per a new rule this year, was only a few steps away from Peko and flagged him for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The penalty moved the ball from the 28 to the 14, and Catanzaro nailed the 32-yarder with 2 seconds left.
"They were on the ball pretty quick and I am a big communicator on our defensive line," Peko said. "Runs, passes. I am trying to communicate stuff. I was saying, 'Get set, get set,' because they were on the ball quick. They thought I said 'hike' or something."
He added, "We were fighting the refs and the Cardinals."
The penalty ruined what had been a late two score-comeback by Cincy.
"It's disappointing to get back into the football game and then they drive down the field there. Who knows, they get the phantom call there at the end, it's kind of ridiculous," said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, a member of the NFL's competition committee. "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."
The Bengals were penalized 10 times for 108 yards, Arizona seven times for 40.