If it had been last year, Bengals safeties coach Mark Carrier isn't sure Sunday's offensive pass interference flag would have been thrown after Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. pushed down Bengals safety George Iloka on the next-to-last play of Cincinnati's 27-24 victory before making the 80-yard touchdown play that was negated.
And if it had happened while he was playing during a three-time Pro Bowl career in the '90s, definitely not.
"It's a lot different because it was a point of emphasis going into training camp, but in years past you wouldn't see that," Carrier said Monday. "I think with the way the rules have changed, they're looking both ways now to see who the enforcer is on the push. When I saw the flag, I knew it was offense. Last year, it probably wouldn't have been thrown."
Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther agreed the flag was self-explanatory.
"I saw the receiver sitting there and they were both kind of sitting down there and then you saw the push off and George goes down on the ground. I saw the flag come out and you never know," Guenther said. "They're so hard on the defensive guys. But I thought it was the right call. In my opinion, if it's pass interference, regardless of the situation, it's pass interference. One way or another. Offensively or defensively. It shouldn't matter the situation, what time's on the clock. That's the rules. I thought it was a clear push off and I was hoping the guy would call it in our favor, and he did."
It's not exactly called often, even with the point of emphasis. It has been called 47 times league-wide this season after eight weeks, according to NFLpenalties.com, compared to 66 all last season. When a flag comes out in the defensive backfield, you can't help but think it's against the defense.
"That's what I was kind of thinking," Guenther said. "You've seen it a hundred times. How do you call it on the defensive guy? He was in position to make a play and as soon as he threw the flag I was thinking this has got to be on them, and it was. It was clear to me what it was.
"It's got to be fair to both sides. As long as you know. It's usually an offensive-dictated foul but that one to me was clear and I'm glad he made the call."
Coaches always come away with a teaching point on every play and Carrier is no different. He'd like to get Iloka in a little better spot.
"He could have had a little better depth and a little better angle, but he was right there," Carrier said. "It's not like he had to go back and find it…it still would have been a jump-ball play because the ball was hanging up there."
Guenther, standing at the line of scrimmage, saw Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco lean back and fire and immediately flashed back to Flacco's deep throw to wide receiver Jacoby Jones that stunned the Denver secondary late and knocked them out of the 2012 playoffs.
"It was very similar," Guenther said.
MORE GENO: Guenther agreed that on Sunday Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins had his best game since his injury five days before the first anniversary of his ACL tear in Miami.
"He played pretty good in the run game; he had a couple good pressures. So he's coming along good," Guenther said. "He's really starting to get back into the Geno we need to have around here. We need him playing at that level."
Atkins came into the game with seven tackles and he had four Sunday, including his first full sack since the night of the injury.
"(He's) just getting off blocks and playing like we've seen him play before. Every week's been a little bit better," Guenther said.