Following a four-yard pass from quarterback Robert Griffin III to wide receiver Pierre Garcon just after the two-minute warning, the Washington Redskins thought they had a first down. After all, the chains did move, indicating they had picked it up. But despite that, officials on the field clearly signaled third-down.
It was a mix-up that will be discussed and debated endlessly — one that head coach Mike Shanahan believes may have cost his team the game.
"You're not going to call a quick hitch on 4th-and inches," Shanahan said. "So, obviously, that's going to affect our play call."
Following the game, referee Jeff Triplette acknowledged the mistake.
"We signaled third down on the field," Triplette said. "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."
But that's where this odd situation gets murkier. Shanahan claims he was physically told they had picked up the first down after requesting a measurement, and with the chains moving, it was safe to assume they had. But following the game, Triplette would not directly address Shanahan's claims.
"I don't know what happened, Triplette said. "I just know that we had signaled third down on the play at the sideline."
Garcon later added that the entire team assumed it was a first down because the chains had moved. As such, the Redskins' coaching staff and offense operated as such. Ultimately however, it wasn't a first-down and a subsequent drop (Fred Davis) and fumble (Garcon) would end Washington's comeback attempt.
Could it have cost the Redskins the game? Theoretically, yes. But given the vast number of bad calls the Giants have been on the negative end of recently, it's hard to have any sympathy for Washington. After all, several questionable calls hurt New York last week against the Cowboys — some, arguably, costing them the game.
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