Redskins’ loss to Giants ends with controversy over what down it was

The Washington Redskins’ 24-17 loss to the New York Giants ended Sunday night amid confusion and controversy over whether the Redskins had gotten a first down during their final drive.

Coach Mike Shanahan said he was told by an official that the Redskins had gotten a first down on a second-and-five completion from quarterback Robert Griffin III to wide receiver Pierre Garcon. One set of chains was moved as if the Redskins had gained a first down.

But after a third-down incompletion thrown toward tight end Fred Davis, the Redskins realized they hadn’t gotten a first down and it was fourth and one. Griffin completed a pass to Garcon for what would have been a first down. But Garcon had the ball taken from his hands by Giants safety Will Hill on what was ruled a fumble. The Giants took possession and ran out the clock with two kneel-downs by quarterback Eli Manning.

Mike Shanahan, right, and Jeff Triplette

Mike Shanahan, right, and Jeff Triplette during the fourth quarter. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

“I said I wanted a measurement,” Shanahan said. “He said, ‘No, you don’t have to. It’s a first down.’ I saw the first down on the other side and he signaled to move the chains on our side. And then I asked when it was fourth down. I said, ‘You already told me it was a first down. I want a measurement.’ Anyway, that was disappointing.”

Referee Jeff Triplette told a pool reporter: “We signaled third down on the field. The stakes were moved incorrectly.”

Triplette declined to comment on Shanahan’s contention that he’d been told by an official the Redskins had gotten a first down.

“I feel like we signaled third down,” Triplette said, according to the pool report. “The stakes just got moved incorrectly.”

Shanahan said the confusion “did affect our play-calling.”

Shanahan also said: “I told him I wanted a measurement because I knew it was close. It was inches. And he said, ‘No, it’s a first down.’ And he moved the chains. And then after I saw it was fourth down, I asked him, ‘You already told me it was first down.’ …  So it was quite disappointing.”

Said Griffin: “All I know is we had the pass to Fred. We thought that was first down. … The chains said first down. When we came back, we thought it’s second and 10 and they’re yelling out, ‘It’s fourth down.’ No explanation. No measurement, didn’t stop the clock to allow the chains to move back. We just had to go ahead and call the play and then go for it on fourth down. That’s all I know.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesdays.

What’s ahead:

● Mike Shanahan meets with reporters at 3 p.m.

More from The Post:

Early lead, late chances slip away in Redskins’ 24-17 loss

The Takeaway: A little progress, a lot of problems

Boswell: Another night to forget in a season full of them

On this night, Griffin was sharp, not part of the problem

D.C. Sports Bog: Redskins vs. Giants best and worst

Box: Giants 24, Redskins 17 | Photo gallery from FedEx

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