The Washington Redskins were critical of the officiating following their 33-17 loss to the Detroit Lions today.
"We were playing against twelve men today," wide receiver Michael Westbrook said.
The Redskins were penalized 14 times on a day when referee Phil Luckett's crew had three calls reversed by instant replay.
The first reversal benefited the Redskins--sort of. The officials ruled that a pass by quarterback Brad Johnson in the first quarter was incomplete after Lions safety Mark Carrier tried to make a diving interception. The officials ruled that the ball had hit the ground. Redskins fullback Larry Centers made the catch on the rebound and took the ball into the end zone, but the Redskins were given only a first down at the 30-yard line following the replay. Officials said they had whistled the play dead.
"I didn't hear a whistle blow," Westbrook said. "I don't know how we got the ball at the 30."
The Redskins got only a field goal out of that drive.
"There's no question if the play is ruled correctly, it's a touchdown," Coach Norv Turner said. "Certainly you'd rather have a touchdown than a field goal. That has an impact throughout the game."
Said Centers: "I was just trying to go to the ball. I saw it pop out. I was able to be at the right place at the right time and made the touchdown. It's a fine example that the instant replay system does not work. They got it half right. We still got points. It would possibly have changed the whole complexion of the game. You never know."
A would-be interception by Carrier early in the fourth quarter was turned into an incompletion by replay, which showed that the ball hit the turf. Later, Westbrook had a 30-yard touchdown catch erased by a replay ruling he had failed to get both feet down in bounds. The Redskins said they thought Westbrook was in bounds and even if he wasn't, he should have been given a touchdown because he was pushed out by cornerback Robert Bailey.
"That was a touchdown," Westbrook said.
Said Turner, who was set to try a two-point conversion that could have pulled the Redskins to 33-25: "It looked to me like Mike caught the ball and got his foot and knee in. To me, it was clearly a force-out."
Short at Tight End
Tight end Stephen Alexander, who has been slowed in recent weeks by a strained hip flexor, was placed on the inactive list before today's game. And even though Turner had worked last week to prepare Mike Sellers to step into Alexander's role, the Redskins felt his loss. Sellers had just one reception for eight yards.
The Redskins should have had a big passing day, with both of Detroit's starting cornerbacks sidelined by injury. Terry Fair missed the game with a broken knuckle, and Bryant Westbrook was out with a hamstring injury.
Faced with pressure from Detroit's defensive line, Johnson had trouble going deep. For the third consecutive game, Centers led the Redskins in receptions, with seven. Westbrook had five catches and Albert Connell had three.
Sims Is Questionable
Left guard Keith Sims's status for next weekend's game against the Arizona Cardinals is uncertain after he aggravated the knee injury that caused him to miss two games last month. . . .
James Thrash's 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown could lead the Redskins to reconsider splitting the kickoff-return duties between Thrash and Brian Mitchell, or go with Thrash exclusively.
"That's certainly one thing we'll evaluate," Turner said.