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 Garcon on second-and-5 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. “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, is required to wait for that first-down signal from the referee before moving the chains. That did not happen at FedEx Field.
After an incomplete pass on the next play — which many Redskins believed 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 Garcon’s catch because the replay official determined the ball was “correctly spotted short of the line to gain for a first down.”
Speaking to a pool reporter Sunday night, Triplette said: “We signaled third down on the field. The stakes were moved incorrectly. After that play, we said it was still third down. We had signaled third down prior to the play starting. The stakes just got moved incorrectly.”
Triplette defended not stopping play, saying it would have given an “unfair advantage.” But Blandino said that was the wrong decision.
• 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. “Obviously, the doctors feel good about me getting back to work. I actually would have preferred to be back sooner, but there was a pretty hard deadline of four weeks post-surgery and I honored that.”
• Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden is following NFL protocol for a head injury, leaving Cleveland without a healthy starter this week.
• Geno Smith will remain the Jets’ starting quarterback, at least for this week.
• Rams center Scott Wells likely will be 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.