Illegal Challenge Dooms Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Nov 30, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back

Doug Martin

(22) stiffs arms Cincinnati Bengals cornerback

Terence Newman

(23) as he runs the ball in for a touchdown during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in position to kick a game-winning field goal with 12 seconds left to beat the Cincinnati Bengals.

Instead, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis illegally challenged the play, forcing the referees into a booth review as the Bucs had 12 men on the field.

It worked as the Bengals hung on to beat the Bucs 14-13 at Raymond James Stadium.

Josh McCown had thrown a 21-yard strike to Louis Murphy to get to the Bengals 20 before Lewis challenged the play. It’s illegal to challenge a play inside the final two minutes but it forced the referees to stop the clock and take a look themselves.

The play was reversed and the Buccaneers were forced to start at the Cincinnati 46. They didn’t pick up a first down again.

Tampa Bay (2-10) had taken a 10-0 lead thanks to a 32-yard Patrick Murray field goal on the Bucs’ opening drive, that had been set up by a Johnthan Banks interception, and then a Doug Martin touchdown with 12 minutes left in the second half.

The Bengals (8-3-1) made it 10-7 with 1:08 left as Andy Dalton ran in from five yards out.

Dalton hit A.J. Green for a 13-yard score with 2:04 left in the third quarter before Murray made it a one-point game with a 42-yard field goal inside the first minute of the fourth quarter.

The Bucs intercepted Dalton three times (Alterraun Verner and Brandon Dixon had the other picks) and held the Bengals offence to 288 yards.

Lavonte David was inactive for the second straight week but Danny Lansanah continued his fine form with a game high 14 tackles.

McCown threw for 190 yards and an interception while Doug Martin showed flashes of his 2012 form in the first half when he had 12 carries for 55 yards. He had six rushes for three yards in the second half.

Mike Evans and Charles Sims each had four catches for 49 yards.

Evan Dietrich-Smith was inactive so Garrett Gilkey got the start at center but it was a disaster. Gilkey had four penalties and fumbled twice.

The Bucs committed 13 penalties for 94 yards, none bigger than the 12 men on the field call.

The Buccaneers are in Detroit next Sunday.