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Ref's Bizarre Mistake May Have Lost NFL Team the Game

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"They couldn't have screwed this up anymore."

LANDOVER, Md. (TheBlaze/AP) — In the final drive of the Redskins-Giants game Sunday night, an officiating mistake compounded by a series of decisions afterward has many questioning if the Washington, D.C., team could have otherwise pulled out a game-tying play.

Referee Jeff Triplette said the down marker was moved incorrectly on the Washington Redskins' last possession of a 24-17 loss to the New York Giants.

Speaking to a pool reporter after Monday night's game, Triplette said the play was not halted to correct the down marker because it happened in the last two minutes and the Redskins — who were out of timeouts — would have been given "an unfair advantage."

redskins New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, left, tackles Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013, in Landover, Md. (AP/Patrick Semansky)

On a second-and-5 play, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III completed a pass to Pierre Garcon. The play gained 4 yards, making it third-and-1, but the down marker was shifted, indicating there was a first down. Washington coach Mike Shanahan said he asked an official for a measurement and was told it was first down.

"I told him I wanted a measurement, because I knew it was close. It was inches. And he said, 'No, it's a first down.' And he moved the chains," Shanahan said. "And then after I saw it was fourth down, I asked him, 'You already told me it was first down.' He didn't say anything. So that was quite disappointing."

Watch this Fox Sports discussion about the officiating issue:

"They really screwed this thing up. [Triplette] just said fourth down. We saw it, it was short of the first down, the chain gang moved into first down position, then Triplette comes into after the play and says they didn't [get] a first down," Al Michaels with NBC Sports said, according to USA Today.

"They couldn't have screwed this up anymore," Michaels said. "That is brutal."

NFL's officiating director Dean Blandino agreed about an error in judgement being made.

"In this situation where there is obvious confusion as to the status of the down, that play should have been stopped prior to third down and the correct down communicated to both clubs," 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."

This post has been updated to include more information.

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