Not since “Friday Night Lights” has a coin toss led to so much drama.
With the NFL declaring Monday night’s game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills a no-contest after Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field, the league decided to alter its playoff procedures in an attempt at a fair resolution. That included a unique scenario that involved the Ravens-Bengals regular-season finale.
If the Ravens defeat the Bengals on Sunday and earn an immediate rematch in the wild-card round of the playoffs, the host would be determined by a coin flip, according to a plan approved Friday by NFL owners.
While Ravens players and coaches seemed more bemused than riled up about the unusual scenario, Bengals coach Zac Taylor voiced his displeasure with the move.
“As far as I’m concerned, we just want the rules to be followed,” Taylor told Cincinnati reporters Friday. “When a game is canceled, you just turn to winning percentage to clarify everything so we don’t have to make up rules.”
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ESPN reported Saturday that Cincinnati voted against the new playoff scenario that other NFL owners approved on a video call Friday.
The Bengals players clearly weren’t happy, either.
After rushing for a 1-yard touchdown in the first quarter Sunday to put the Bengals up 10-0, running back Joe Mixon pulled a coin from his glove and flipped it in the air before he and his teammates pretended to kick it away.
Mixon, who earlier this week tweeted a section of the rule book dealing with playoff seeding in the wake of canceled games, followed the advice of former Bengals star wide receiver Chad Johnson, who asked his former team before the game to celebrate with a coin toss.
It was just one of many team celebrations for the Bengals as they took a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter. After safety Jessie Bates III intercepted Ravens rookie quarterback Anthony Brown in the first quarter, the Bengals mimicked a roller coaster in the end zone.
When Brown, making his first NFL start, threw his second interception early in the second quarter on a ball that bounced off wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, the Bengals defenders pretended to fall asleep in the end zone.
The Ravens might not have to wait long to seek their revenge. With a Bengals win and a Buffalo Bills win over the New England Patriots, Baltimore will return to Cincinnati for the wild-card round next weekend. The Bills, honoring Hamlin in their first game since the incident, returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown and were tied with the Patriots at 14 in the second quarter.