The referee appeared to be anticipating Williams going out of bounds, but the running back never got that close. The whistle was blown with Williams at the 17-yard line. Redskins defenders stopped pursuing him. And yet the touchdown was allowed to stand in the Panthers' 21-13 victory.
It seemed very unusual and wrong at the time. On the other hand, Williams appeared to be on his way to scoring the touchdown anyhow, so it was hard to get upset about it. It appeared the refs got the call right in a backward way. But in a statement Monday, the NFL says the officials got it all wrong.
"In Sunday's game between the Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins, the Panthers were incorrectly awarded a touchdown following an inadvertent whistle," an NFL spokeperson said in a statement to CBS Sports.
The ball should have been dead when the official blew the whistle. The Panthers should have had a choice to have the ball on the 17-yard line or replay the down at the 30.
It is rare to see an entire group of NFL officials melt under pressure like they did in this case. It certainly appeared the officials knew they made a mistake by blowing the whistle, so they tried to correct it, even if that meant going against the rulebook.
We can only imagine how badly replacement refs would have been crucified had this happened under their watch.Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.