With the launch of a new month, the same old problems are plaguing the league’s officiating. But at least they’re finding new ways to screw things up.
On Sunday bizarre sequence marred the home team’s last-gasp effort to force overtime (unless Washington coach Mike Shanahan was feeling a little Brady Hoke-ish). A pass on second and five from quarterback Robert Griffin III to receiver Pierre Garςon appeared to result in a first down, as the chains moved and the on-field indicator re-set to a big orange “1”.
And so Griffin threw the ball down the field, where the pass was dropped by tight end Fred Davis.
And then it turned out, according to referee Jeff Triplette’s crew, that the Redskins hadn’t gotten a first down at all. Instead, it was fourth and one from the Washington 45 yard line.
On fourth down, a pass to Garςon was completed for a six-yard game and then fumbled and the Giants secured possession, but if the officials hadn’t treated the prior play like a first down the Redskins likely would have dialed up a different play on third and short.
Said Shanahan after the game, via CSNWashington.com: “I said I wanted a measurement and they said ‘No, you don’t have to. It’s a first down.'”
Shanahan also said that the presumed first down had an impact on his team’s play calling.
It’s impossible to know what would have happened if the officials hadn’t screwed things up, primarily because the officials screwed things up. And while the officials surely will be held accountable by the league office for the error, it contributed to a loss that could move Shanahan closer to being held accountable with his job.