NFL head of referees admits officiating error at end of Redskins-Giants game

You might have noticed that the referees screwed up the ending to the New York Giants-Washington Redskins game Sunday night. Now, the NFL has admitted as much.

In a statement, NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino tried to untangle the mess that left the Redskins unsure of what down it was based on what the officials were doing on the field, and it helped lead to a failed comeback in a Giants victory.

In short form, Blandino explained that the ball was spotted correctly following a second-down reception by Pierre Garcon just short of the Redskins' 46-yard line but that the head linesman "incorrectly motioned" for the sticks to move and the down marker to change to a one, indicating a first down. Two plays later, on fourth down, the ball was stripped from Garcon's hands for a Giants turnover. Game over.

The explanation after the fact has to be little solace now for the Redskins, who fell to 3-9 with their fourth straight loss.

Here's Blandino's explanation in full, in a statement delivered on Monday:

"With 2:00 remaining in the fourth quarter of Sunday night's game between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, Washington faced a second-and-5 from its own 41-yard line with no timeouts remaining. Quarterback Robert Griffin III completed a pass to wide receiver Pierre Garcon for four yards. The ball was correctly spotted shy of the Washington 46, bringing up third down," Blandino said in the statement.

"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.

"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.

"Only the referee can rule and signal a first down. The official nearest to the down markers and chain crew, the head linesman, must wait for the first down signal from the referee before moving the chains.

"Instant Replay did not become involved in this situation because the replay official determined that the ball on Garcon's catch was correctly spotted short of the line to gain for a first down."

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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