GLENDALE, Arizona — Domata Peko has been in the NFL for 10 seasons and seen and been called for his share of penalties. The one he was flagged for in the last second Sunday night was a new one.
The Cincinnati defensive tackle was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct for calling out offensive signals to try to confuse the Arizona Cardinals as they lined up to spike the ball leading up to a field-goal attempt.
So instead of a 46-yard try, the penalty moved the ball from the 28 to the 14. Chandler Catanzaro sent a 32-yarder through the uprights with 2 seconds to play and the Cardinals beat the Bengals 34-31.
"They were on the ball pretty quick and I am a big communicator on our defensive line," Peko said. "Runs, passes. I am trying to communicate stuff. I was saying, 'get set, get set,' because they were on the ball quick. They thought I said 'hike' or something.
"I don't think I have ever seen that call, ever since I have been in the NFL," Peko added. "We had way too many penalties today. That was the name of the game. We were fighting the refs and the Cardinals."
The Bengals (8-2) committed 10 penalties for 108 yards in losing their second straight game. Cincinnati had tied the score with two late scores.
Carson Palmer overcame two early interceptions against his former team to throw four touchdown passes and, with 57 seconds left, completed three quick passes to move the Cardinals into field-goal range after the Bengals rallied to tie it at 31.
"I just made two really stupid plays," Palmer said. "Just kind of got the jitters out and we got rolling. We caught fire in the second half."
Andy Dalton threw two touchdown passes for the Bengals, both to Tyler Eifert. The second, a 10-yarder, cut it to 31-28 with 3:44 to play. Mike Nugent tied it at 31 with a 43-yard field goal 1:03 from the finish.
Palmer, who had said during the week that this one against his former team was "not just another game," completed 20 of 31 passes for 317 yards and has 11 TD passes in his last three games — four against Cleveland, three against Seattle and four against Cincinnati.
Dalton bounced back from a shaky start to the second half to engineer the Bengals' comeback. He finished 22 of 39 for 315 yards.
Arizona rookie speedster J.J. Nelson caught four passes for 142 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown reception.
The Cardinals trailed 14-7 at the half, led 28-14 in the third quarter and 31-21 in the fourth before the Bengals rallied.
Arizona had the ball at its 16 with 58 seconds to go and Palmer quickly threw 19 yards to Nelson. He followed with passes of 18 and 20 yards to Larry Fitzgerald to move the ball to the Cincinnati 27.
The Cardinals were trying to spike the ball because they were out of timeouts when the referees blew their whistles and announced the penalty against Peko.
"Who knows, they get the phantom call there at the end. It's kind of ridiculous," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "I trust what our player did and said. I don't see how they can make that call at that point in the game like that,
"We've got to just regroup and we've got to get focused and we've got to go win the football game next week."
While Dalton started the second half with six straight incompletions, Palmer moved Arizona to three third-quarter touchdowns on three possessions.
After the Bengals took the second-half kickoff and were forced to punt, Palmer threw deep to the speedy Nelson who caught it at about the 10 and scored, a 64-yard play that tied it at 14.
Cincinnati went three and out, and Arizona went 66 yards in eight plays, Palmer throwing 18 yards to John Brown for the score to give the Cardinals their first lead of the night, 21-14 with 5:32 left in the half.
Passes of 11 yards to Fitzgerald and 14 to Nelson set up Palmer's 16-yard scoring pass to David Johnson and Arizona opened a 28-14 lead after three quarters.
Dalton had his heroics, too.
Cincinnati had third-and-26 at the Arizona 38 when Dalton threw 22 yards to Marvin Jones. On fourth-and-4 from the 16, Dalton threw 10 yards to Mohammed Sanu, and Hill's 1-yard run cut it to 28-21 with 11:26 still remaining.
Dalton even had a shot at giving the Bengals the lead on his team's final drive, the one that ended in Nugent's field goal. On third-and-2, he had A.J. Green for a 25-yard touchdown but Arizona's Justin Bethel was able to break up the pass at the last moment.
"We left too much time," Dalton said. "It's tough for it to end this way. We fought until the very end and that's good to see."