Tom Coughlin: Late official timeout Sunday night would have been unfair to Giants

Tom Coughlin shakes hands with Washington Redskins head Tom Coughlin shakes hands with Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan after the Giants defeated the Redskins 24-17 during a game at FedExField. (Dec. 1, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty

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The NFL said play should have been stopped to clear up confusion over what down was being played late in the Giants-Redskins game Sunday night, but Tom Coughlin said that would not have been fair to his team.

“Let’s face it, they don’t have any timeouts, the clock is moving, that should have been straightened out in the first place but it wasn’t,” Coughlin said Monday on a conference call with reporters. “We would have been upset had the clock been stopped, sure we would have. Not that it would have made a difference, but we would have.”

The Redskins were driving toward a potential tying touchdown when Pierre Garcon caught a pass for 4 yards on second-and-5. The officials spotted the ball properly on the field and referee Jeff Triplette signaled third down, but the chains on both sides of the field moved and showed first down. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said after the game that he asked for a measurement on the play but was told by the head linesman that he already had the first down. The Redskins ran a play thinking it was first-and-10, an incomplete pass to Fred Davis that was broken up by Antrel Rolle, but Triplette then announced it was fourth-and-1, not second-and-10.

“In this situation where there is obvious confusion as to the status of the down, play should have been stopped prior to third down and the correct down communicated to both clubs,” NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said Monday in a statement. “This should have occurred regardless of the fact that Washington had no timeouts and it was inside two minutes.”

Triplette told a pool reporter Sunday night he recognized the confusion but did not stop the clock because that would have given the Redskins an advantage.

Despite the chaos, the Redskins would have converted the fourth-down play with a pass to Garcon but the ball was stripped out of his hands by safety Will Hill for the game-sealing take-away.

“It’s unfortunate that it had to happen that way,” Justin Tuck said. “Lucky for us, Will came in and made a play and really made [the controversy] a moot point honestly.” 

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