Confusion over down at end of Giants-Redskins game

Referee Jeff Triplette acknowledged the down marker was moved

incorrectly on the Washington Redskins’ last possession of a 24-17

loss to the New York Giants on Sunday night, but said halting play

to fix the mistake ”would have given an unfair advantage.”

On second-and-5 from his own 41 coming out of the two-minute

warning, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III completed a pass

to Pierre Garcon. The play gained 4 yards, making it third-and-1,

but the down marker was shifted, indicating there was a first


Washington coach Mike Shanahan said after the game that he asked

an official to measure to see whether that play had earned a first

down – but was told that wasn’t necessary.

After an incomplete pass, the announcement was made that it was

fourth-and-1 and not, as the Redskins believed, second-and-10.

”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.

No explanation. No measurement. Didn’t stop the clock to allow the

chains to move back,” Griffin said. ”And we just had to go ahead

and call the play.”

Both Shanahan and Griffin said the confusion over the proper

down might have affected the play choice on fourth-and-1. But

Griffin did complete a 6-yard pass to Garcon there – which would

have been enough to extend the drive – before safety Will Hill

stripped the ball away after the catch and ran the other way. The

Giants ran out the clock.

”I told him I wanted a measurement, because I knew it was

close. It was inches. And he said, `No, it’s a first down.’ And he

moved the chains,” Shanahan said. ”And then after I saw it was

fourth down, I asked him, `You already told me it was first down.’

He didn’t say anything. So that was quite disappointing.”

Speaking to a pool reporter, 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


The game was inside the final two minutes, and the Redskins were

out of timeouts.

”We just didn’t shut it down in that situation, because that

would have given an unfair advantage,” Triplette said.

Asked about the odd sequence, Giants defensive end Justin Tuck

said: ”I saw that, and I was like, `That ain’t a first down,’ but

they put a first down on the sticks. I was trying to signal to

(Giants coach Tom) Coughlin, `You might want to challenge that,’

but the play was going fast there. … Lucky for us, they corrected

their mistake.”

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