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Shutdown Corner

Josh Morgan takes one of the worst penalties in NFL history, costs Redskins a chance at overtime

Frank Schwab
Shutdown Corner

There is a whole new level for inexcusable penalties after what receiver Josh Morgan did to sabotage the Washington Redskins.

With the Redskins trailing 31-28, Morgan caught a third-down pass and was short of the first down at the Rams' 29-yard line, but the 7 yards Morgan picked up should have helped Billy Cundiff's chance at a game-tying field goal. Then Morgan had a brain lock for the ages.

Cortland Finnegan, Rams cornerback and professional agitator, gave Morgan a little shove at the end of the play. Morgan inexplicably threw the ball at Finnegan in retaliation. There are certain things an official can let slide in the heat of the moment, especially when he knows a penalty will decide the game, but there's no way an official is going to ignore a player chucking a ball at an opponent after the play.

The flag was worth 15 yards and suddenly the Redskins faced fourth-and-16. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan -- whose doghouse door opened up the moment Morgan wound up and fired at Finnegan -- decided to let Cundiff try a 62-yard field goal rather than go for it with 1:18 left. It was well short and wide right, and the Rams killed the clock with a couple plays out of victory formation.

What makes the penalty even crazier is Morgan was well aware of Finnegan's reputation for getting under an opponent's skin and talked during the week about not retaliating. This is what he told the Washington Post before the game:

"He's the ultimate competitor, a great competitor," Morgan said. "He's one of those guys that plays—you know how they say play to the whistle? He's one of those guys that plays until you walk back to the huddle…He's just got a little extracurricular with him, you know." [...]

"You don't want to be the second guy because the second guy is going to get caught," Morgan said. "He's going to come at you and he's going to be the first, second and third guy. You've got to remind yourself not to be that fourth and fifth guy, and throw your hands up and walk back to the huddle."

Wow.

Morgan's penalty takes its spot in NFL infamy, alongside blunders like Dwayne Ruud's helmet throw that cost Cleveland a win over Kansas City in 2002, Leon Lett touching the ball after Dallas blocked a field goal against Miami on Thanksgiving in 1993, Jim Marshall running the wrong way or Garo Yepremian's ill-fated pass.

Morgan may never live this down, especially in Washington.

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