The Washington Redskins had a dose of fourth-quarter magic Sunday. But in their nothing-goes-right start to the season, that magic dissipated quickly as wide receiver Aldrick Robinson’s would-be go-ahead touchdown catch was overturned by an instant-replay review that resulted in the play being ruled an incompletion.
“It was emotional,” Redskins fullback Darrel Young said. “It was very emotional. It [stinks] any time you think you’ve scored and you don’t. But it’s football. You’ve got to move on.”
The Redskins went on to lose to the Detroit Lions, 27-20, to drop their record to 0-3. Their touchdown-that-wasn’t to Robinson was one of several plays the Redskins had to lament afterward. If the catch had stood, the 57-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Robert Griffin III to the speedy wide receiver, along with a successful extra point, would have given the Redskins a 24-20 lead with just more than nine minutes remaining in the game.
“When you take away a touchdown — it definitely would have helped us,” fellow Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon said. “But it’s part of the game. We just have to come back and keep playing our part, keep doing our jobs. It didn’t help us.”
The play originally was ruled a legal catch and a touchdown by the officials on the field. But all touchdowns are automatically subject to replay review. It was ruled after the review that Robinson had failed to maintain possession of the ball as he tumbled to the turf in the end zone. Referee Ed Hochuli announced “the ball was rolling on the ground.”
Robinson contended later he had made the catch and the touchdown should have been upheld on replay. But he also acknowledged that others on the Redskins’ sideline knew after viewing the replay on the stadium’s video screens that the touchdown would be overturned.
“The camera view was on my right side,” Robinson said. “When I came down with the ball, I had it secured in my [left] hand the whole time. I’m just trying to brace myself to the ground. But, I mean, naturally my whole body was moving, and the ball was in my hand. So the ball moved with my body. It kind of looked like the ball was sliding on the ground. But . . . it was a touchdown. I had control of the ball the whole time.”
Robinson said he thought even after seeing the replay the touchdown should have stood.
“I still thought it was a catch,” Robinson said. “I was trying to explain to the ref what was happening. But he was like, ‘I’m not looking at the replay.’ But I’ve just got to take that loss and just deal with the consequences.”
Robinson said he noticed “everybody wasn’t as excited as I was” after the replay was shown in the stadium.
“Everybody said that the ball had, somehow, was on the ground,” he said. “I knew it was in my hand the whole time. But, I mean, the replay said differently.”
Lions cornerback Rashean Mathis, who was covering Robinson on the play, said he knew right away it wasn’t a catch. Young said he believes he heard offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan say on the Redskins’ sideline the catch likely would be overturned.
“I think I heard Kyle just say it,” Young said. “Regardless, I thought it could have gone either way. . . . It was just a controversial play. I’m sure they’ll talk about it and it’ll be brought up at next year’s NFL meeting with the referees.”
Said Redskins tailback Alfred Morris: “I actually thought he had his hand under the ball. But just from the angle, they really couldn’t tell. It looked like the ball was on the ground. So they overruled it. That’s their job, to make calls, and that’s the call they made. So there’s nothing really you can do about it.”
The Redskins ended up punting on that possession, and the Lions drove to a touchdown that increased their lead to 27-17 with just less than four minutes left.
“It felt so good,” Robinson said. “I thought I gave us the lead with the touchdown catch. But obviously I didn’t. And they go down and score that same drive. So it feels real bad. . . . We played better today. Everybody was on track, and we should have won that game. The replay said different. But I know we won that game in my heart.”
The Redskins had been searching desperately for a spark on offense, and the Griffin-to-Robinson touchdown might have provided it.
“That was our first time taking a shot to me this whole season,” Robinson said. “I came down with it. But they took it away from us. It’s the third game. So we can just continue to strive forward.”
Said left tackle Trent Williams: “A touchdown would have did a lot for us in that instance. But it was a tough catch to make. So that’s how the ball rolls sometimes.”
Brandon Parker contributed to this report.