By Tom James CNHI News Service
The Herald Bulletin
---- — CINCINNATI — Did he or didn’t he?
Was Cincinnati Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis stopped on fourth down short of the end zone or did he make to the end zone without being touched?
The Indianapolis Colts, many of their supporters and a large number of long-time National Football League observers say no.
They are steadfast in their belief that Colts second-year nose tackle Josh Chapman had grabbed Green-Ellis’ ankle from behind on the play, forcing the former Indiana University standout to lose his balance and eventually came up short of the end zone.
No one disputes the fact that Green-Ellis eventually wound up past the goal line. Those who support Indianapolis’ position, though, contend that he was down before that happened.
Since the play occurred in the final two minutes of a half, it was automatically reviewed by the officiating crew that was headed by referee Jeff Triplette.
At the time, the review was considered a technicality. Cincinnati’s defense and the Colts’ offense were already on the field.
But Triplette surprised everyone when he reversed the call and signaled a touchdown.
The Twittersphere exploded. Everybody had an opinion. And most, if not all, disagreed with the call. Even former National Football League supervisor of officials Mike Pereira, now an analyst for Fox Sports, thought that it was the wrong call.
After the game, a pool reporter asked Triplett to explain his decision.
“There was a discussion about whether the runner was touched down at the goal line or not. When we reviewed the video at the goal line, there was nobody touching him there. And then he bounced into the end zone,” the veteran game official said.
But what about CBS Sports’ game broadcast replays that showed Chapman grabbing Green-Ellis’ foot, which caused him to stumble.
Triplette said that the replay review centered on the goal line, not on the initial part of the play.
“We looked at the goal line. (Those) were the shots that we looked at,” he said. “We reviewed the goal line.”
Other reactions — Colts head coach Chuck Pagano deferred when asked his opinion of the replay reversal. And for good reason. He doesn’t want to be fined by the NFL.
“They reversed it. We thought we had made a play, you know. We thought we had made a play and held,” Pagano said.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis didn’t think it was an issue.
“No, he wasn’t touched,” Lewis said. “My thinking was to score a touchdown. If we left it short, we still have two timeouts and (the Colts) have the ball at the 1-yard line.”
“I felt my left foot get hit, but don’t know if (I) tripped on my own or was hit. That’s something I’ll have to watch film on and see how it went,” he said. “They have enough (replay) camera angles in the league. They can settle anything nowadays.”
Injury list — Running back Chris Rainey left the game with an ankle issue. He did not return.
Pagano said that Rainey would undergo a magnetic resonance imaging test.
Cornerback Greg Toler (groin) was a pregame inactive. He has not played since he was hurt against Denver on Oct. 20.
Clinching the division — Even though Indianapolis lost to the Bengals, the team annexed its first AFC South title since 2010 when Denver beat Tennessee at Mile High Stadium late Sunday afternoon.
The Broncos posted a 51-28 victory over the Titans.
Indianapolis can go 5-0 in the division this Sunday when Houston visits Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts have now won eight AFC South championships since the division was formed prior to the 2002 season.