NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino went further in a statement obtained by NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport on Monday:
"With 2:00 remaining in the fourth quarter of Sunday night's game between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, Washington faced a second-and-5 from its own 41-yard line with no timeouts remaining. Quarterback Robert Griffin III completed a pass to wide receiver Pierre Garcon for four yards. The ball was correctly spotted shy of the Washington 46, bringing up third down," Blandino said in the statement.
"Referee Jeff Triplette signaled third down but the head linesman -- with Washington in a 'hurry-up' situation -- incorrectly motioned for the chain crew to advance the chains, which caused the down boxes to read first down.
"Following a Washington incomplete pass, the chains were moved back and the down boxes correctly reset to fourth down.
"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. This should have occurred regardless of the fact that Washington had no timeouts and it was inside two minutes.
"Only the referee can rule and signal a first down. The official nearest to the down markers and chain crew, the head linesman, must wait for the first-down signal from the referee before moving the chains.
"Instant Replay did not become involved in this situation because the replay official determined that the ball on Garcon's catch was correctly spotted short of the line to gain for a first down."
There was blame to go around here. Head linesman Phil McKinnely incorrectly motioned for the chain crew to advance the chains. Only a referee can rule and signal a first down, so multiple people made a mistake in not waiting for the first-down signal from Triplette before moving the chains.
Triplette also was in error. He explained after the game that he didn't want to stop the game "because that would've given an unfair advantage" to the Redskins.
Blandino ruled differently and said the play should have been stopped because of the confusion.
It's unclear if Triplette or McKinnely will be disciplined for their mistakes, but Rapoport reports no suspension is expected, per a person familiar with the situation. A referee theoretically can be suspended for an on-field call, but that isn't expected to happen here. Rapoport notes that Triplette will be graded for this game before any other potential measures are taken.