No play in the Cincinnati Bengals' roaring third quarter of Super Bowl LVI, during which they flipped a 13-10 halftime deficit to a 20-16 lead, was bigger than Tee Higgins' 75-yard touchdown catch to open the second half. And perhaps no call -- or non-call -- garnered more attention than Higgins' apparent facemask foul of Rams star cornerback Jalen Ramsey as the ball was in the air.
The contact clearly impeded Ramsey's ability to make a play on the ball, but according to referee Ronald Torbert, officials saw more of a rake of the facemask than a grab and a twist.
"Our rule is that if there is a grab and twist and turn, there's enough for a foul," Torbert told Pro Football Writers Association pool reporter Joe Reedy. "If there's just a rake across the facemask, where there's not a twist and turn even if there's a grab, there is no foul. The officials did not see any contact that rose to the level of a foul for a 15-yard facemask."
Followed Reedy: "So, they did not see a twist and turn?"
"Yes, that's correct," Torbert replied.
FOX Sports officiating analyst Mike Pereira, formerly the NFL's vice president of officiating, did not agree.
"Not a good start to the second half. The pulling of the facemask should have been (offensive pass) interference or a facemask penalty," Pereira posted via Twitter.
On the play, Higgins lined up in the slot and broke outside for a go route along the left sideline. Ramsey, who had lined up outside on Chase, picked up Higgins and had strong inside position to make a play until Higgins slung him with a left hand across the facemask.
Ultimately, Ramsey and the Rams pulled out a late victory, and Higgins' touchdown won't go down in history as a game-changer.