Here is the bottom line: The Giants battled back from a 14-0 deficit to beat the Redskins 24-17 and remain in the hunt for the post-season. But that’s not what everyone wants to talk about this morning. Instead, we’re talking about the final series where Will Hill created a turnover on fourth down to seal the win for Big Blue. More specifically, how the refs created all kinds of confusion for the Skins and essentially took away their ability to tie the game.
You lose, good day sir.
Here’s how it went down. The score was 24-17 with the Washington Redskins driving to tie the game when one of the more memorable 2013 officiating gaffes took place. After a 9.5 yard gain on second and 10, the Skins thought they had made a first down. So did the umpires in charge of moving the chains. In fact the first down marker in direct line of sight to RGIII said ‘first down’. He threw a 19 yard seam pass to Fred Davis, which Antrel Rolle broke up. Second down right? No, FOURTH DOWN.
Apparently head referee Jeff Triplette had signaled third down, the umpires thought the Skins made a first down, and confusion set in. RGIII rushed up to the line, the ball was snapped and thrown to Fred Davis, it fell incomplete. At that point, allegedly, referee Jeff Triplette came up and said something to the effect of ‘actually, we goofed. it’s now 4th and 1.’ The broadcast crew then flew into a rage, replyed the series and correctly showed they hadn’t made a first down with the “unofficial” first down marker — replayed the umpires marking a first down call, and at that point I thought Al Michaels was going to lose all composure. And he had a right to fly off the handle.
As a Giants fan, you had to laugh — but if this went against New York we would all be livid this morning instead of enjoying our Monday morning cup of coffee, listening to the D.C. area fall out. One of the problems between what we see as an audience and what happens on the field is how different the perspective is. In this replay era of football – there has been a concerted effort to make the right calls while at the same time not sacrifice the speed of the game. In a hurry up situation inside of 2 minutes with the game on the line, nothing is more critical than accurate, speedy communication between all officials so that the product on the field is as seamless as possible. No one likes to lose because of an officiating issue. You have to ask, should more or less be done to get the right call in that moment?
I see it a couple different ways. Less is more, sometimes. But in a hurry up situation such as last night, officiating wasn’t necessarily the issue. It was more about getting the correct down and distance so that it matched what we all saw on screen. Now I would think if the broadcast booth can quickly and accurately ascertain the outcome of a play, the league should look into implementing that perspective… insofar as the technology used to present the game to the audience adds value to the officiating process. Adding more time to definitively ascertain an outcome of a given play is not valuable. Getting the right call at the expense of consistency of live action gameplay is already an issue. So how do you get more accurate officiating, faster?
I don’t know, but when you take away a team’s ability to potentially tie the game – this situation can easily boil over.