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League admits refs blundered in Giants win over Redskins

Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins sits on the ground after a play against the New York Giants during their game at FedExField on December 1, 2013 in Landover, Maryland
Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins sits on the ground after a play against the New York Giants during their game at FedExField on December 1, 2013 in Landover, Maryland

NFL officials admitted Monday that referees blundered in the final seconds of the New York Giants' 24-17 victory Sunday over the Washington Redskins.

But there is nothing the Redskins can do but wonder what might have happened after suffering their ninth loss in 12 games.

Robert Griffin III completed a 4-yard pass on second down to the Washington 45-yard line very near the line to gain for a first down.

Referee Jeff Triplette signaled third down as the Redskins, hoping to march downfield for a tying touchdown, worked without a huddle in a "hurry-up offense".

But the head linesman incorrectly had the sideline yardage marker crew move the chains forward as if the Redskins had gained a new set of downs and the markers reset to indicate first down.

Thinking Washington had a first down, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan called for a long pass to tight end Fred Davis that he dropped. Pierre Garcon had the ball ripped out of his hands on fourth down by Giants defender Will Hill and the Giants took the ball, clinching the victory.

NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said officials should have halted the game to make certain everyone was aware of the situation once the incorrect information was discovered even though it meant aiding the Redskins' who had used all of their timeouts.

"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.

"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."

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