Commanders question officiating decisions in loss to Giants
No flag being thrown for defensive pass interference on Washington's fourth-and-goal play in the final minute of a loss to the New York Giants was just one of the officiating decisions the Commanders were unhappy about.
The team questioned the non-call on Darnay Holmes as he covered Curtis Samuel in the end zone, an offensive pass interference call against Jahan Dotson on a 2-point conversion in the third quarter and a penalty for illegal formation on Terry McLaurin on the Washington's last drive. They added up to a pile of frustration as part of a 20-12 loss Sunday night that dealt a blow to Washington's playoff chances.
“You take those plays out, there’s still a lot of missed opportunities," said quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who lost two fumbles, including one that was scooped up for a Giants touchdown. "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.”
Holmes' pass breakup on Heinicke's pass attempt to Samuel got the most attention, especially after screenshots and replays posted on social media showed the cornerback draped over the receiver's shoulders in the end zone with the ball in the air.
“Oh, yeah,” Heinicke responded when asked whether he thought there should have been a penalty. “Saw the picture and the dude had his arms around his neck."
Two plays prior, the Commanders had first-and-goal from the 1 when McLaurin was called for illegal formation, negating an apparent touchdown run by Brian Robinson Jr. McLaurin found the flag surprising because he said an official assured him before the snap he was lined up OK.
“I feel like I checked with him twice," McLaurin said.
Referee John Hussey disagreed.
“What I was told and what has been confirmed is that the ball was snapped at the half-yard line and he was lined up a yard back at the 1 1/2-yard line," Hussey said. “In order to be deemed legal, he needs to break the beltline, the waist, of the center, and he was not breaking the waistline of the center. That's why the penalty was called - because he was not in a legal formation.”
Long before the final drive, the Commanders tried to go for 2 to cut it to 14-11 and looked to have converted on a pass from Heinicke to Samuel until it was wiped out for pass interference on Dotson for setting a pick.
“He gets called for an OPI and the guy’s grabbing him," Heinicke said. "I don’t know what else he could have done.”
Even after that situation and the call on McLaurin, Washington had a chance to score in the final minute. Heinicke scrambled before throwing the ball toward Samuel and having it broken up by Holmes.
“That was a good play,” Giants coach Brian Daboll said. “It was a good play.”