It’s easy to forget, but Washington actually got inside the Cincinnati 20-yard line late in the fourth quarter on Sunday. With the crazy finishes elsewhere in the league, this game could have gone in a wildly different direction.
Then Robert Griffin III took a painful 15-yard sack, pushing the Redskins back to the Bengals’ 34-yard line. See the image above, which shows RGIII getting tackled at the 34. Then he spiked the ball, setting up a 3rd-and-25 from the 34. The 34.
Then came chaos, with Fred Davis getting a 5-yard false start penalty, and everyone else going crazy, and the officials having a hallucinogenic dream, and the Redskins’ sideline picking up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
What’s that penalty cost a team? From the NFL’s rulebook:
Loss of 15 yards from succeeding spot or whatever spot the Referee, after consulting with the crew, deems equitable.
And what did that particular penalty cost the Redskins?
From the NFL’s gamebook:
PENALTY on WAS, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 20 yards, enforced between downs.
Say what now? We’re gonna turn a 15-yard penalty into a 20-yard penalty, just because? We’re going to take a hail-Mary throw that would have landed right around the goal line and move it back five yards? Just to mix things up? Or maybe because we can’t count?
The CBS broadcast team could count, which is why two “3rd and 45” graphics flashed on the screen. But the ball was pretty clearly at the Washington 41, a full 50 yards from the first-down marker. The images don’t lie. The Redskins were pushed back from the Cincinnati 34 to the Washington 41, a loss of 25 yards, thanks to a 5-yarder and a 15-yarder.
Unless I’m missing something, that’s just blatant incompetence.