Officials in Redskins-Giants Game Get Mixed Up, Mess Up First-Down Call During Redskins’ Final Drive

Will Hill,  Pierre GarconThose little debrief meetings that NFL officiating crews have after every game may be uncomfortable for the referees who called Sunday night’s Redskins-Giants game.

There were no waved-off flags or questionable pass interference calls at the end of this one, but the refs may have preferred a more common controversy. Sunday’s game instead showcased their inability to work together on the game’s final drive.

The crew’s gaffe came during the Redskins’ last possession, as Washington looked to come back from a 24-17 deficit with two minutes left. The Redskins got to 2nd-and-5 at their own 41-yard-line and then logged a 4-yard completion, which would have made it 3rd and 1. That’s when the mix-up happened.

The line judge signaled a first down, and the down marker was changed. But the head linesman, Jeff Triplette, was signaling third down as Washington quickly moved to get off another play. The Redskins, thinking it was first down, called a long-yardage play to tight end Fred Davis. After Davis couldn’t come up with the catch, they thought they were facing 2nd-and-10, but they were suddenly left with 4th-and-1 as Triplette noted it was fourth down.

Although Triplette’s crew had noted a first down, Triplette’s ruling was the one that counted, since he was the head linesman. But the Redskins went with most of the on-field indicators, and Triplette did not move to stop the play, emphasize the down or pull out the chains to check the spot, since doing so at that point would have stopped the clock (to the Redskins’ advantage).

The Redskins, then facing 4th-and-1, failed to gain the needed yardage, with Pierre Garcon catching a 6-yard pass but fumbling the ball.

While the blown call didn’t necessarily sway the outcome of the game — and came at the expense of the 3-9 Redskins, who have now been eliminated from playoff contention — it was pretty embarrassing for an officiating crew that should have its stuff together, especially during such a pivotal time in a game.

Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels let the referees have it on the NBC broadcast.

“They really screwed this thing up,” Michaels said.

“You can’t do that,” Collinsworth added.

“Well, he just did,” Michaels said. “We saw it — it was short of the first down, the chain gang moved to the first-down position, and then Triplette comes in after the play and says they didn’t get the first down. I don’t blame Mike [Shanahan] for being crazy about it.”

“You can’t do that!” Collinsworth said. “You don’t run that play if you know what the down is — you can’t go back like that!”

“Absolutely,” Michaels agreed. “[The officials] shouldn’t have let the play go off before measuring.”

Last year, the NFL at least had an excuse with the replacement refs.

“This is professional football,” Collinsworth said. “This is not supposed to happen.”

To make matters worse, Shanahan said after the game that he asked for a measurement but was told he didn’t need it because his team had gained the first down.

Watch the controversial play below, courtesy of diehardsport.com.

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