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Website Notes Error in 12 Men Penalty on Saints

Replacement officials may have played a role in the demise of the Saints in their season-opening loss to the Redskins (Photo: Parker Waters).Replacement officials may have played a role in the demise of the Saints in their season-opening loss to the Redskins (Photo: Parker Waters).

While Saints fans looking to place at least some of the blame on replacement officials in Sunday's 40-32 loss to the Washington Redskins would immediately look at the defensive pass interference call on Roman Harper in the end zone, Deadspin.com has something else to consider.

In a feature it calls the "21 worst referee mistakes from Sunday," the site points out a glaring error that extended a Redskins drive by more than five minutes in the second half.

Late in the third quarter, with the Saints trailing 30-17, the New Orleans defense forced a three-and-out, and on fourth down, the Redskins punted. However, the Saints were flagged for 12 men on the field and Washington was given a first down.

Apparently, incorrectly.

Deadspin points out that the drive started at the 20 after a touchback, and shows that the third-down play, while officially listed as third-and-5 on the statistics, took place from between the 24 and 25-yard lines and was an incomplete pass by Robert Griffin III.

As a general rule, once the ball is completely past the yard stripe, it is statistically considered to be at the next yard line. However, when penalties are assessed, this doesn't apply.

So if the ball was re-placed correctly on fourth down, a five-yard penalty would have still left the ball shy of the 30-yard line by about a foot. In that situation, the Redskins would likely have punted again, rather than risk going for it on fourth down with a 13-point lead and perhaps giving the Saints a huge momentum lift.

Instead, the Redskins got the first down with exactly 1:00 left in the third quarter and maintained the drive until more than four minutes were gone in the fourth quarter, which ended with a field goal to extend Washington's lead to 33-17.

 

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