Refs Screw Redskins. Please! Gimme A Break!
By Martin Alvin
As everyone knows by now, the officials refereeing the Giants, Redskins game last Sunday night, screwed up with under two minutes left to play: they signaled a Redskin first down — and moved the chains to indicate a first down — when, in fact, the previous pass play to Pierre Garcon was about a yard short. So, in fact, it was actually third down, not first down. And yes, that’s a seriously stupid mistake because it really did affect the next play called by Washington. But what no one -– except ESPN – is saying is, the foul up actually helped the Redskins rather than hurt them.
The Redskins, thinking it was first down and ten, instead of fourth down and one, opted for a deep pass down the middle, which worked perfectly to their TE Fred Davis. With that completion, the ball is deep in the Giant’s Red Zone with plenty of time left for the Redskins to tie the game. Antrel Rolle, however, comes up and lays a really hard –- really clean — lick on Davis and knocks the ball out of his hands for an incompletion.
At this point, the Redskins realize they are now actually facing fourth down and one yard to go rather than second down and ten yards to go. After fussing and fretting, they line up and run their next play, a six yard “out” to Pierre Garcon –- which gets the first down. But Will Hill strips the ball away from Garcon, kills the Redskins drive, and effectively ends the game
So, let’s examine this for a minute: after getting jobbed by the referees -– and yes, they did get jobbed — the Redskins made the first down, regardless if it was third and one or first and ten, But Fred Davis couldn’t hang on to the ball. That’s not the referee’s fault. Then, when they realize they’re actually facing fourth and one, they make the play for that first down, except Will Hill blows up the play. That’s not the referee’s fault, either.
And consider this, too: back in the 2011 Giants/Falcons Wild Card game, with 1:41 left on the clock, at the end of the first half, with Giants up by only 7-2, in a very hotly contested defensive battle, the Giants are facing a third and ten yards to go. Eli hits Nicks with an eleven-yard completion. The ball is spotted as a first down –- and Fox TVs superimposed yellow first down line verifies that. It now appears to be first and ten yard to go. Based on that, Eli selects a deep pass to Nicks which is incomplete. Eli and the Giants think they’re now facing second and ten but soon learn from the referee it’s actually fourth down and one and they have to punt.
After halftime -– during which no one cries about the incorrect placement of the ball –- announcers, Aikman and Buck interview Mike Pierra, ex-NFL Official. He confirms that the referees had spotted the ball incorrectly, not giving the Giants the first down they thought they had –- and did, in fact — have. He also confirms that the referees did not alert the Giants to that fact. He also confirms that they did not opt for a measurement because, with less than two minutes to play, and with the clock running, a measurement is solely the option of the Replay Assistant in the booth, and not the officials down on the field. He also confirms that the referees on the filed would not have granted the Giants a measurement, even if the Giants had asked for one — and of course, the Giants didn’t ask for one because they didn’t think they needed one.
But what’s most important is, after the screw-up –- and it was screw up in a tightly contested playoff game — everyone simply went about their business with no further carping or complaining. So, the howl of condemnation following the Redskins foul-up was pure crap. But what’s worse is it draws attention away from what was a very impressive Giant’s win over a not so impressive Redskin team -– especially since the Giants were immediately down -0-14.
It minimizes the fact that all afternoon, the Giants ‘D’ was hitting as hard as they have hit in any of the game I’ve seen this season -– and I’ve seen them all. Antrel Rolle knocked the ball loose from Fred Davis, for example, and Jon Beason knocked RG III back about ten yards on an RG III run. That was just one of Beason’s seventeen tackles, which is as impressive as Justin Tuck’s four sacks. And Peyton Hillis and Andre Brown ran like a floored-out Mack trucks. But instead, the story turned out to be about the referees screwing the Redskins. Please! Gimme a break!