Referees From Giants Redskins Sunday Night Game Should be Suspended
The down dial says "1" for first down. Mike Shanahan wanted a measurement, but was told it was a first down and a measurement was not needed. So, on what the Skins thought was first down, the Skins call a pass downfield that is dropped by Fred Davis. It comes up on what they thought was second down, but in fact it was FOURTH. Because Triplette, the referee, never signaled first down, the chains were moved incorrectly. The fourth down play ended with Garcon catching a pass for a first down, and the ball wrestled away from him to end the game.
No, Washington did not lose this game because of the refs. If Davis doesn't drop the pass right in his hands, the "non first down" is moot, same thing if Garcon hangs onto the fourth down pass. But, that doesn't make Triplette's handling of the situation any less appalling.
No matter whether the ref called a first down or not, when you move those chains, you have signaled a first down. The whole building knows that to mean, first down. It affects the play call. If it is third and one, there is no way on God's green earth that Kyle Shanahan calls a downfield pass. The play he called was a first down call, made based on the chains being moved, and the down updated to "1".