In the first quarter, Marvin Lewis challenged the spot at his own 30, following a second down play. This challenge was so ridiculous for several reasons. You challenge plays when (a) your chance of success is really high, and/or (b) the situation is very high leverage. For example, now that scoring plays are excluded, a turnover is about as high leverage as it gets. A third down catch/non-catch, particularly one that gains a lot of yards, would be pretty high leverage, as it results in change in possession.
Here, a spot of the ball is almost universally a poor challenge. They have to see clear evidence, and it rarely happens on a spot, and usually only if it was clearly wrong and the player was at least a half yard past the mark. Add in that this is in the first quarter, and it was going to be 3rd and inches, and it was a dreadful playoff challenge. The challenge had a small chance of succeeding, and the Bengals were probably at least 75% to convert that given the short distance anyway. (Dalton did pick it up on a sneak on the next play).
Later in the second quarter, Lewis challenged a catch call. Owen Daniels went to the ground while catching it, and the Bengals defender battled him and after much wrangling pulled the ball out. It was ruled a catch. In a vacuum here, the challenge was not as bad as the first. However, knowing that it is the final challenge, in the second quarter, on a play where the odds of success were still less than 50%, and where it was a short third down conversion, probably dictated eating the challenge flag there.
Now, the Bengals have to survive a whole half without a questionable call that would be ripe for a challenge, such as a fumble ruling.
[photo via Getty]