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Originally published December 2, 2013 at 8:23 PM | Page modified December 2, 2013 at 8:26 PM

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NFL says officials erred at end of Sunday night game


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NEW YORK — Washington coach Mike Shanahan spoke Monday with the NFL’s director of officiating after the league said Sunday night’s crew made an error on Washington’s final drive.

The league said officials should have stopped play and eliminated confusion about the down and distance at the end of the Giants’ 24-17 victory at Washington.

“I talked to Dean earlier today, he gave me a call and just went over the scenario,” Shanahan said, referring to Dean Blandino, who oversees NFL officiating. “Obviously they made a mistake and you live with it.”

With New York leading by seven points just after the two-minute warning, a catch by the Redskins’ Pierre Garcon on second-and-five was spotted short of a first down at the Washington 45. Referee Jeff Triplette signaled third down. But the head linesman, with the Redskins in a hurry-up offense, incorrectly motioned for the crew to advance the chains, which caused the down boxes to read first down.

“In this situation where there is obvious confusion as to the status of the down, that play should have been stopped prior to third down and the correct down communicated to both clubs,” Blandino said Monday in a statement. “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, is required to wait for that first-down signal from the referee before moving the chains. That did not happen at FedEx Field.

After Washington’s incomplete pass on the next play — which many Redskins believed was on first down — the chains were moved back and the down boxes correctly reset to fourth down.

Blandino said instant replay review was not used on Garcon’s catch because the replay official determined the ball was “correctly spotted short of the line to gain for a first down.”

Notes

• Denver Broncos coach John Fox returned to work Monday, four weeks after open-heart surgery, his newfound energy matching his renowned enthusiasm.

“I feel tremendous. As my surgeon said, I had a valve that was the size of a pinhead and now it’s the size of a 50-cent piece,” Fox said. “Obviously, the doctors feel good about me getting back to work.”

Geno Smith is staying put as the New York Jets’ starting quarterback. “He’s our best shot, in my opinion,” coach Rex Ryan said.

• With Brandon Weeden suffering a concussion in Sunday’s 32-28 loss against Jacksonville, and Jason Campbell still not medically cleared to practice after suffering a head injury last week, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski doesn’t know who will start at quarterback at New England.



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