Washington let a 14-point first half lead slip away, then found itself on the wrong end of a miscommunication with officials in a 24-17 loss to the New York Giants at FedEx Field.
In a matchup between two NFC also-rans, this game will be remembered for how it ended. Down seven points and facing a second-and-5 with two minutes to play, quarterback Robert Griffin III connected with wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who was brought down at Washington's 41-yard line. The Redskins appeared to be just shy of a first down.
"Well, I said I wanted a measurement," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan explained, "and (the official) said, 'You don't have to, it's a first down.'"
The chains were moved and the far sideline stake was changed to indicate first down. Griffin attempted a pass deep down the middle that was dropped by tight end Fred Davis. As the Redskins huddled, the stake now indicated fourth down.
"After I saw it was fourth down, I asked (the official), 'You already told me it was first down.' He didn't say anything," Shanahan said.
"All I know is we had the pass to Fred, (and) we thought that was first down," Griffin said. "The chains said first down. When we came back, we think it's second-and-10, and they're yelling out it's fourth down.
"No explanation, no measurement," RGIII added. "They didn't stop the clock to allow the chains to move back. We decided to call the play and go for it on fourth down."
Referee Jeff Triplette explained that officials signaled a third down, but that "the stakes were moved incorrectly." Triplette added that officials didn't stop play to reset the stakes "because that would've given an unfair advantage" given the clock situation. Shanahan would obviously disagree with elements of this explanation.
A frustrating sequence for the Redskins, no doubt, but it's not the reason they lost. That happened on the next play, when Griffin completed a 6-yard pass to Garcon that would've moved the sticks without controversy. However, Giants safety Will Hill ripped the ball out of Garcon's hands as the wide receiver fought for extra yards.
The turnover sealed the fate of the 3-8 Redskins, who were officially eliminated from playoff contention with the loss. Another grim ending in a season full of them.
UPDATE: NFL VP of officiating Dean Blandino issued a statement Monday morning to address the controversial scenario that transpired in the final minutes of the Giants' win. Blandino acknowledged that play should have been stopped and both teams should have been made aware of the correct down and distance before proceeding. The statement can be seen here.