The Washington Cardinals will have to pick a bone or two with the officials after losing 20-12 to the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football.
Needing a punt and a two-point conversion to send the game into overtime with a minute left, the Commanders found themselves on the Giants’ doorstep when quarterback Taylor Heinicke’s fumble set them up on 3rd-and-goal at the 1-yard line.
Commanders running back Brian Robinson appeared to score that much-needed touchdown on the next play until it was called back due to an illegal penalty on wide receiver Terry McLaurin. The Pro Bowl pass-catcher didn’t line up close enough to the line of scrimmage, erasing the score from the books.
However, the next replay showed McLaurin asking the linesman if he had lined up correctly and changing his position twice. The player confirmed that would be the case after the game.
Heinicke got angry after the game. is reported “He’s giving Terry a thumbs up, what’s that?” Referee John Hussey told the pool reporter that McLaurin should have been lined up in front of the center zone line, which he was not, and said that an official is not usually required to tell a player whether they are legally positioned or not.
Somehow it might not have been the worst.
After one incomplete pass, the Commanders went 4th-and-goal from the 6. Heinicke danced in the pocket for a few seconds, then targeted wide receiver Curtis Samuel in the end zone for a potential game-tying touchdown.
A pass fell incomplete a while later, well, let’s call it aggressive defense for now by Giants cornerback Darnay Holmes. However, upon further review, it became clear that Holmes was doing much more than just being aggressive in covering Samuel. He basically pretended to be his opponent’s backpack.
Many on social media called the quick play a pass interference missed by the referees. Unfortunately for the Commanders, there wasn’t much they could do from there other than watch the Giants kill the clock and move into a commanding position in a close playoff race.
Ron Rivera, head coach of the Commanders, was not very happy with the situation after the game. Perhaps wisely he refused to share his deepest thoughts with reporters about game maintenance.
“Don’t ask me about refereeing because I can’t answer the question.”
Of course, commanders lost for more reasons than just officials. something Heinicke pointed out. The team struggled to protect him for most of the game, especially on Kayvon Thibodeaux’s punt return. But it’s hard not to think that the team should have had two different chances for a game tied at two points apiece, and that’s never a fun way to lose.