NFL admits refs erred

McClatchy news servicesDecember 3, 2013 

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan spoke Monday with the NFL’s director of officiating after the league said Sunday night’s crew made an error on Washington’s final drive.

The league said officials should have stopped play and eliminated confusion about the down and distance at the end of the Giants’ 24-17 victory at Washington.

“I talked to Dean earlier today, he gave me a call and just went over the scenario,” Shanahan said, referring to Dean Blandino, who oversees NFL officiating. “Obviously they made a mistake and you live with it.”

With New York leading by seven points just after the two-minute warning, a catch by the Redskins’ Pierre Garon on a second-and-5 play was spotted short of a first down at the Washington 45. Referee Jeff Triplette signaled third down. But the head linesman, with the Redskins in a hurry-up offense, incorrectly motioned for the crew to advance the chains, which caused the down boxes to read first down.

“In this situation where there is obvious confusion as to the status of the down, that play should have been stopped prior to third down and the correct down communicated to both clubs,” Blandino said Monday in a statement.

Only the referee can rule and signal a first down.

After Washington’s incomplete pass on the next play — which many Redskins thought was on first down — the chains were moved back and the down boxes correctly reset to fourth down.

Blandino said instant replay review was not used on Garon’s catch because the replay official determined the ball was “correctly spotted short of the line to gain for a first down.”

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III said the confusion affected the play calling.

“The chain said first down, and then when we came back, we think it’s second-and-10, and they’re yelling out it’s fourth down,” Griffin said. “No explanation. No measurement. Didn’t stop the clock to allow the chains to move back. And we just had to go ahead and call the play.”

Griffin did complete a 6-yard pass to Garon on fourth-and-1, but safety Will Hill stripped the ball. The Giants then ran out the clock.

Elsewhere around the league, Titans coach Mike Munchak said the NFL told him officials erred on three plays in his team’s 22-14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, including one flag that should not have been thrown at all.

EXTRA POINTS

Texans defensive end Antonio Smith is apologizing for using the word “spying” about New England, but isn’t exactly backing down from the accusations he made after a loss. Smith told reporters that the Texans had some new wrinkles in their defense and it was “miraculous” how the Patriots changed their offense to key on the defense. … Geno Smith is staying put as the Jets’ starting quarterback. “He’s our best shot, in my opinion,” coach Rex Ryan said. Smith was benched in favor of Matt Simms at halftime of the Jets’ 23-3 loss to the Dolphins. … Broncos coach John Fox returned to work Monday, four weeks after open-heart surgery. “I feel tremendous. As my surgeon said, I had a valve that was the size of a pinhead and now it’s the size of a 50-cent piece,” Fox said. … Rams center Scott Wells is likely out for the rest of the season after he broke his left ankle in the first half of Sunday’s 23-13 loss at San Francisco.

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