The Washington Redskins were screwed by the referees and chain gang on their final possession in a 24-17 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday night.
Washington had the ball at their 41 with two minutes left and were facing a 2nd-and-5 situation. Robert Griffin III completed a pass to Pierre Garcon, who came close to the first down marker. The ball was spotted just short of the yellow line running across the NBC screen. The confusion came when the chain gang acted like it was a first down after being instructed by a referee to move the sticks forward.
In the GIF below, you can see the official at the bottom of the screen instruct the chain gang to move up for a first down:
The chain gang moved the sticks up and changed their down box to signify first down. The problem was the referees then changed their mind and then signaled that it was third down.
Below you can see the same referee who initially waved the chain gang up for a first down changed and then signaled a three on his hand, all the while the down box said one:
Washington attempted a deep pass on the 3rd-and-1 play, possibly because they thought they had a first down. Fred Davis dropped the pass after taking a big hit, leaving Washington in a 4th-and-1 situation. Griffin completed the fourth-down pass to Garcon, but he was stripped by Will Hill to seal the game.
The real problem here is that the referees didn’t stop the game to straighten things out, leaving the down situation unclear to the players. Washington probably deserved to lose — especially after Garcon was stripped of the ball — but they deserved a fair ending and did not receive one.
GIF via Diehard SportGoogle+