Trailing the Cincinnati Bengals by seven points with 29 seconds remaining in regulation, the Washington Redskins were within striking distance of tying the game and forcing overtime. Despite lacking a timeout, the Redskins had just marched 79 yards in five plays, aided in part by a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Bengals cornerback Terence Newman.
What transpired next would seal the game for the Bengals and will likely result in a sternly worded letter along with a stiff fine for Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin was sacked for a 15-yard loss and was forced to spike the clock to give the Redskins seven seconds for one more chance at the end zone. On the ensuing play, tight end Fred Davis burst out of his stance early for a false start penalty, pushing the Redskins back another 5 yards. While many Bengals exited the bench area, assuming a 10-second runoff would drain the clock, because it was a dead ball foul, there was no runoff and the Redskins would simply be moved back another 5 yards to the Bengals' 39-yard line.
Instead, head linesman Toney Brasuell enforced the stern memo the league sent to all NFL teams about berating the replacement officials, flagging the Redskins bench for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. As was the case later on Sunday when Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was penalized after attempting to a call a timeout, harsh words from the sidelines should result in a 15-yard penalty, yet the officials in the Redskins-Bengals game inexplicably tacked on another 5 yards, making that a 20-yard penalty and moving the ball back to the Redskins' 41-yard line.
Much like Billy Cundiff's 62-yard field-goal attempt the previous week in St. Louis -- or "St. Louie," if you're a replacement official working Sunday's St. Louis Rams-Chicago Bears game -- Griffin's Hail Mary attempt on third-and-45 was well short of the end zone, knocked down at the Bengals' 10-yard line and the game came to an end.
But that wasn't the last the officials would hear from Kyle Shanahan. According to Dan Heille of NBC Washington, Shanahan chased the officials down the tunnel and had some "choice words," with ESPN 980, an outlet owned by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, providing some specific details on what Shanahan reportedly said to the crew (which included a couple F-bombs). Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports the league will be investigating the matter.
"The Kyle Shanahan incident will be reviewed…. Finding out exactly what happened is part of the review so we can't comment on [the details of the incident as reported to the league office] right now," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.
On Monday, Shanahan issued a statement of apology. From the Washington Times:
"When I overheard the official tell the head coach that the game was over after the false start penalty, I tried to explain that the game was not over," Shanahan said. "That is what resulted in the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. I tried to get an explanation of how I could get that penalty when half of the other team was on the field, as well.
"I was frustrated, and in the process of trying to get some answers from the officials, I conducted myself in the wrong way.
"I ask our players to hold themselves to a high standard and be accountable, and I know that I'm accountable for my actions, as well.
"I know that I need to handle those situations better in the future. My emotions got the best of me, and I know it's my responsibility. This will never happen again."
As will assuredly be the case with Harbaugh and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, Kyle Shanahan will be fined and warned, once again, to "respect the game" by not berating these replacement officials, even after they think 5+15 = 25. (To be fair, math is hard, you guys, and the calculator function on most Casio watches is totally unreliable these days.) To which Shanahan, and other coaches around the league, will wonder when the National Football League will show their respect for the game by ending the stalemate and bring the real officials back for the remainder of the season.
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