The league has admitted that referee Jeff Triplette should have stopped last night’s Redskins-Giants game to clear up confusion about what down it actually was.
The league issued a statement from vice president of officiating Dean Blandino explaining the mess, which Triplette failed to do last night.
The statement pointed out that the second-down pass to Pierre Garςon was “correctly spotted” short of a first down, but that the head linesman “incorrectly motioned for the chain crew to advance the chains, which caused the down boxes to read first down.”
After Washington’s incomplete pass to Fred Davis on third down (which they thought was first down), Garςon caught a fourth-down pass, but it was stripped away from him by Giants safety Will Hill.
“In this situation where there is obvious confusion as to the status of the down, play should have been stopped prior to third down and the correct down communicated to both clubs,” Blandino said. “This should have occurred regardless of the fact that Washington had no timeouts and it was inside two minutes.
“Only the referee can rule and signal a first down. The official nearest to the down markers and chain crew, the head linesman, must wait for the first down signal from the referee before moving the chains. Instant Replay did not become involved in this situation because the replay official determined that the ball on Garcon’s catch was correctly spotted short of the line to gain for a first down.”
That’s small consolation to the Redskins, although Garςon’s fumble served to make to larger point moot.
But the league needs to make sure its internal grading process takes such mishaps into account, creating accountability for the guys who haven’t done a very good job of explaining themselves lately.