PONTIAC, Mich. — The game swung on a judgment call, but it was bad judgment if you ask the Detroit Lions.
A 49-yard pass interference call against Detroit's Demetrious Johnson set up a one-yard touchdown run by Cincinnati's Larry Kinnebrew with 40 seconds remaining Sunday and the Bengals escaped with a 24-17 victory.
"To lose a game on an official's call has always been a crime," Detroit Coach Darryl Rogers said.
The Bengals (6-3) had second and 20 at their 40-yard line when Boomer Esiason lofted a long pass intended for Cris Collinsworth. Johnson bumped Collinsworth at the Lions' 11, giving the Bengals a first down.
"I don't know if that type of call should have been called in that type of situation," Johnson said. "The ball was in the air and I was just trying to get back to the ball."
Esiason said the play wasn't designed to go to Collinsworth. Instead, running back James Brooks was the intended receiver.
"But when I saw Cris break open, I threw to him," Esiason said. "Cris is such a clutch receiver, you get it anywhere near him in the last two minutes of the game, you know he is going to come up with it.
"If they don't interfere, it's a touchdown."
Four plays later, Kinnebrew plowed over left tackle for the winning score, capping a 77-yard, 9-play drive that took 4 minutes 10 seconds.
"From my point of view, it was a good call," Bengal Coach Sam Wyche said. "That's the rules. You play by them."
Stanley Wilson had touchdown runs of 2 and 4 yards for Cincinnati, while Jim Breech added a 38-yard field goal and missed from 50 and 44 yards.
Detroit's Eric Hipple, who completed 23 of 33 passes for 287 yards, threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Leonard Thompson and flipped a 5-yard scoring pass to newcomer Jimmie Giles, who was cut two weeks ago by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The touchdown pass to Giles tied the score, 17-17, with 7:56 left.
Eddie Murray, who kicked an 18-yard field goal, became all-time scoring leader for the Lions (3-6) with 637 points, one better than the mark set by kicker Errol Mann. Murray also missed from 50 yards.
Big plays set up Cincinnati's first two touchdowns.
James Brooks broke off a 55-yard run to Detroit's 14-yard, and Wilson scored from the 2.
Bengals rookie Joe Kelly picked off a Hipple pass and returned it six yards to the Lions' 19 with 1:50 remaining in the third quarter. Wilson scored four plays later.
Brooks gained 120 yards in 15 carries, and Kinnebrew added 72 in 16 tries. Esiason completed 13 of 27 passes for 167 yards.