Updated: 10-19-06, 6:15 a.m.
Lewis: "It's not exact science"
Pereira, the league's vice president of officiating, backed his referee's call with 2:45 left in Sunday's 14-13 loss in Tampa Bay. In a play the Bengals argued heatedly, Mike Carey flagged Smith 15 yards for roughing Bucs quarterback Bruce Gradkowski on what the Bengals insisted was a simple sack at the Bengals 40 and Cincinnati holding on to a 13-7 lead.
With a new life at the Bengals 25, Gradkowski threw the winning eight-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-four with 35 seconds left. After the game, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis ventured, "I guess you have to cuddle him to the ground," while Smith allowed, "I haven't seen anything like that in my six years (in the NFL) where the game is changed like that. They're not supposed to change the outcome."
Carey argued that Smith drove Gradkowski's helmet into the ground when replays showed Smith's shoulder hit the ground first. On Wednesday, Pereira said he could see the Bengals' point but that Carey doesn't have the benefit of replay.
"I appreciate what Marvin has to say; it's a tough thing," Pereira said. "It's obvious we're officiating contact on the quarterback different than we did 20 years ago.
"But this is a different day and age and if we're going to lean, we're going to lean on the side of the protection of the quarterback. Marvin's comments I clearly understand. ...The question has been put to the (NFL Competition Committee), the question has been put to the clubs, and what we're doing is basically following their guidelines to protect them. It's an area of the game that involves judgment and involves safety and we'll live with the judgments that are made by the referees."
It sounded like Lewis had already heard the NFL's side of it when he met the media earlier Wednesday.
"The official's got to do his thing; he has to do it in a split second. But I know what's right," Lewis said. "But that guy still has to make a split-second decision. They're going to err on the side of safety whether it be a defenseless receiver or quarterback. We understand that, so hopefully we come out on the top of all those judgments, and they don't happen at a critical point in the game where they make that big of a difference."
Pereira also said that Gradkowski didn't fumble on the play and that the line judge ruled that forward progress had been stopped before the ball came out and was recovered by the Bengals' Robert Geathers, which is why the penalty was enforced from the 40.
"Here's what it looks like in slow motion and it doesn't look as dramatic," Pereira admitted as he pointed to the tape. "We're going to go with the judgment of the referee here in Mike Carey's eyes, and if he feels any act, whether it involves the pass or not, whether a guy is slammed down on his head or not, then he's going to throw the flag. That's the call he's got to make, he's been entrusted to make, he's entrusted to protect the quarterback and he'll continue to do so."
By league policy, Lewis wouldn't discuss what the NFL told the club about the play. But Lewis, heading into his second year on the competition committee, endorsed the weekly process of teams asking the league office to explain questionable calls.
"It's a good system because it helps us improve our guys and help them understand why this was called or why it wasn't called, so that we can coach it up and do better the next time in that situation," he said.
As a member of the competition committee, he said he could understand the need for secrecy.
"I have a better understanding of that; so it's not to be debated," Lewis said. "This is a game played by humans. It is decided sometimes with quick decisions. It's not exact science."
SECURITY THREAT: Paul Brown Stadium is not one of the stadiums singled out for a terrorist attack this Sunday on a Web site posting that the government is regarding "with strong skepticism."
According to wire reports, the message said trucks would deliver radiological bombs to stadiums in New York, Miami, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Oakland and Cleveland -- and that Osama bin Laden would claim responsibility.
The NFL issued a statement that said its stadiums "are very well protected through the comprehensive security procedures we have in place, including secure facility perimeters, pat-downs and bag searches."
It doesn't mean Henry is staring at a year-long suspension if found guilty or if he pleads. But it does mean new NFL commissioner Roger Goodell continues to hand down tough sentences.
Robinson, who had served a four-game suspension for violating the substance abuse program in 2004, was apparently prohibited from drinking alcohol as a part of his treatment program. And on Tuesday, after he pleaded not guilty to an Aug. 15, 2005 drunken driving and fleeing police charges in Minnesota, Goodell rejected his appeal and suspended him for a year. He can't apply for reinstatement until Sept. 2007.
No one knows the specs of Henry's rehab program in the NFL. But two different courts have sentenced him to periods of staying away from alcohol.