Officiating was a hot topic in the wake of the Giants’ 20-12 win over the Commanders on Sunday night, with two pivotal decisions going against Washington in the final moments of the game.
“Don’t ask me about the refereeing,” Commanders coach Ron Rivera said afterward. “I can’t answer the question.”
On fourth-and-goal with 56 seconds left in the game, Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke threw a pass to receiver Curtis Samuel in the end zone, but Giants cornerback Darnay Holmes broke up the play. Although Holmes clearly contacted Samuel before the ball arrived, the officiating crew did not call a penalty. The resulting turnover on downs essentially ending the game.
When asked if a penalty should have been called, Heinicke said, “Oh yeah.” He added that he “saw the picture, and the dude had his arms around his neck.”
That wasn’t the only play that upset the Commanders on their final drive. One play earlier, on third-and-goal, receiver Terry McLaurin was called for an illegal formation penalty which negated a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Brian Robinson.
On replay, McLaurin could be seen communicating with an official prior to the play, presumably asking whether he was lined up legally. McLaurin said after the game that the official told him his positioning was O.K.
“When I moved up, I checked to see if I was good, and he said I was good,” McLaurin said. “I’m not trying to get fined. We had other opportunities; for it to come down like that is tough.”
Heinicke didn’t blame the loss solely on the officiating.
“You take those plays out, there’s still a lot of missed opportunities,” Heinicke said, via the Associated Press. “You can’t blame the refs. There are some calls there that are questionable. But again, there’s other plays out there to be made and we didn’t make them. Ultimately, it’s on us.”
Samuel reiterated Heinicke’s sentiment.
“I can’t control that [the officiating],” Samuel said, via ESPN. “All I can do is try to make the play when the ball is in the air. I’m not a ref; ain’t nothing I can do about that.”
With the loss, the Commanders dropped to 7–6–1, but they still remain in the seventh spot in the NFC playoff picture.