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Panthers touchdown vs. Redskins aided by inadvertent whistle

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The officials awarded the Carolina Panthers a first-quarter touchdown during their triumph Sunday over the Washington Redskins despite awhistle being blown inadvertently by line judge Tom Symonette during DeAngelo Williams’s 30-yard run.

“The line judge blew his whistle,” referee Carl Cheffers said, according to a pool report. “We had a lot of discussion about it. We just felt when the whistle blew that the player would have already scored a touchdown. . . . By rule, we would have to put him down when the whistle blew and we tried to decide where that spot would be, and we felt that spot would be in the end zone.”

Television replays seemed to indicate that the whistle came with Williams around the Redskins 17-yard line. According to Fox officiating analyst Mike Pereira, the score should have been disallowed.

Pereira, formerly the NFL’s vice president of officiating, wrote on Twitter after the play occurred that “even though he didn’t step out of bounds the official should’ve admitted he blew the whistle and ball should have been dead there.”

But Cheffers said officials ruled that “by the time the whistle blew, he had already crossed the goal line. That was our decision and that’s why I announced that the ruling on the field is touchdown.”

If the officials had ruled Williams down, the Panthers would have had the option of playing that down over or having the play stand.

Perry Riley, who was in pursuit of Williams before appearing to slow up at the 10-yard line once he was past him, disagreed with the contention that Williams was in the end zone before the whistle blew. The Redskins linebacker said he would have tried to shove Williams out of bounds had the whistle not sounded.

“If I had kept going, I could’ve pushed him out,” Riley said. “I didn’t want to push him out after the whistle and then get a 15-yard personal foul. You hear a whistle and you think the play is dead. He keeps running. The referees huddle up. I don’t know what they were saying and then they call a touchdown. . . . I went and talked to the ref and said, ‘You all had blew it dead.’ He acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about.”

Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said he’d been unaware at the time of the inadvertent whistle, and was told officials were trying to decide whether they to call a holding penalty.

“I thought there might be a possible hold,” Shanahan said. “I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t quite see it from my angle. The officials said they were talking about was there holding or not holding. And at the end of the day, they called it a touchdown and there wasn’t a flag thrown. I didn’t know about the whistle. They didn’t say anything about that. They were trying to decide if it was holding or not. That was the way they relayed it to me.”

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