The league said that the Panthers should have instead been offered the ball at the 17-yard line — at the point where line judge Thomas Symonette blew his whistle because he mistakenly thought Williams had stepped out of bounds. Under the rules, Carolina could have also chosen to replay the down at the 30.
Williams kept running and was awarded the first-half touchdown in the Panthers’ 21-13 victory Sunday. Redskins linebacker Perry Riley said he stopped pursuing the play because he heard the whistle.
Referee Carl Cheffers said after the game that the officials decided the whistle wasn’t blown until Williams reached the end zone and that it didn’t affect the play’s outcome, so the touchdown ruling stood. Replays show the whistle was blown earlier, but an inadvertent whistle is not reviewable by replay.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said the league had no choice but to acknowledge the error.
“They had to admit that, even if they didn’t want to. … I didn’t know it was that bad until I looked at the film,” Shanahan said. “That was an obvious mistake.”
Check out the video below to see Williams’ controversial touchdown.