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NFL roundup: League admits officials erred

The SportsXchange

The NFL acknowledged Monday that the officials made mistakes during the Washington Redskins' final drive on Sunday night against the New York Giants.

The controversy surrounded a third down at the Washington 46-yard line after Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III completed a 4-yard pass to wide receiver Pierre Garcon with less than two minutes remaining in a game that the Giants won 24-17.

Head linesman Phil McKinnely "incorrectly motioned for the chain crew to advance the chains" rather than wait for a first-down signal by referee Jeff Triplette, NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said in a statement Monday.

Triplette said he refrained from stopping play to get the down correct because he thought it would give the Redskins, who had no timeouts left, an unfair advantage.

After the game, Triplette said the stakes were moved incorrectly.

"Referee Jeff Triplette signaled third down, but the head linesman -- with Washington in a 'hurry-up' situation -- incorrectly motioned for the chain crew to advance the chains, which caused the down boxes to read first down," Blandino said. "Following a Washington incomplete pass, the chains were moved back and the down boxes correctly reset to fourth down. In this situation, where there is obvious confusion as to the status of the down, play should have been stopped prior to third down and the correct down communicated to both clubs. This should have occurred regardless of the fact that Washington had no timeouts and it was inside two minutes."

---New England quarterback Tom Brady responded to a suggestion from a "suspicious" Houston defensive lineman Antonio Smith that the Patriots knew what was coming in the second half when they rallied past the Texans for a 34-31 victory.

"You know, truthfully, we just played a little bit better in the second half," Brady said on WEEI sports radio in Boston. "We've kind of been through a lot of this before. I don't really think much of it, truthfully. I just kind of have moved on."

After the game, Smith said the Texans (2-10) used wrinkles on defense that were just installed during the week and not yet on film.

"Either teams are spying on us or scouting us ... I'm very suspicious," Smith told ESPN.

---The New York Jets are sticking with Geno Smith at quarterback -- at least that's what the rookie says he was told.

Despite being benched during Sunday's loss to the Miami Dolphins, Smith apparently will be the starter this week against the Oakland Raiders. He said he received confirmation from Jets quarterback coach David Lee.

---John Fox returned to active duty as head coach of the Denver Broncos on Monday, nearly a month after having aortic valve replacement surgery on Nov. 4.

Fox has not yet decided whether he will be on the field or up in the press box for Sunday's home game against the Tennessee Titans.

The Broncos went 3-1 with defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio as the interim head coach in Fox's absence.

---Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier has not decided on a starting quarterback for Sunday's game against Baltimore.

Christian Ponder suffered a concussion in Sunday's victory over Chicago, but even if he is cleared to play, Frazier may start Matt Cassel, who performed well after replacing Ponder against Chicago.

---The Cleveland Browns are not sure who their starting quarterback will be for Sunday's game against New England.

Quarterback Brandon Weeden was diagnosed with a concussion after playing the entire game against Jacksonville on Sunday. He was playing in place of Jason Campbell, who sat out the game after sustaining a concussion the previous week.

If neither is cleared to play, the starting quarterback could be Alex Tanney, who was signed last Wednesday because of the injury to Campbell.

---Offensive tackle Rashad Butler left the Pittsburgh Steelers for personal reasons after signing with the team during the weekend.

Butler and center Eric Olsen were added to the roster on Saturday to provide depth for the injury-plagued offensive line. Tackles Kelvin Beachum and Mike Adams and guard David DeCastro were hurt in Thursday night's loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Center Fernando Velasco is on injured reserve.

---Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin was ruled out of Monday night's game against the New Orleans Saints because of lingering hip soreness.

---The NFL finalized its schedule for Week 15 on Monday and kept the Cincinnati Bengals-Pittsburgh Steelers game in its original spot on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

The Monday Night Football game in Week 15 is the Baltimore Ravens playing at the Detroit Lions.
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