NFL acknowledges refs spotted ball incorrectly before Redskins’ final play [updated]

September 24, 2012

Replacement officials spotted the ball incorrectly when they assessed five- and 15-yard penalties against the Washington Redskins in the final seconds of their loss Sunday to the Cincinnati Bengals, the NFL acknowledged Monday.

The Redskins were called for a false start, a five-yard penalty, as they lined up for a play from the Cincinnati 34-yard line, after quarterback Robert Griffin III spiked the ball to stop the clock with seven seconds remaining. The officials then called a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Redskins. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan acknowledged Monday that the penalty was called on him.


Robert Griffin leaves the field after the chaotic ending to Sunday’s game (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

The 20 yards in penalties should have moved the ball to the Redskins’ 46-yard line. Instead, the officials assessed 25 penalty yards and placed the ball at the Redskins’ 41.

NFL spokesman Michael Signora said Monday that the ball was “incorrectly spotted.”

The officials decided correctly, however, not to assess a 10-second runoff for the false start penalty because the clock was stopped when the penalty occurred, according to the league.

If the clock had been running when the false start penalty occurred, there would have been a 10-second runoff and the game would have been over.

“It was properly officiated,” Signora said.

Griffin threw an incomplete pass on the Redskins’ final play from the 41-yard line. His Hail Mary pass fell about 10 yards shy of the goal line. The Redskins lost, 38-31.

The NFL also acknowledged later Monday that there should have been a 10-second runoff when the game was stopped after Redskins wide receiver Leonard Hankerson was injured with just more than a minute to play.  The Redskins were out of timeouts at the time.

The clock should have been reset from 1 minute 7 seconds to 57 seconds, according to the league.

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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