- The Washington Times - Monday, November 5, 2012

The NFL on Monday said officials erred in not taking Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams‘ touchdown off the board because of an inadvertent whistle.

Head referee Carl Cheffers explained Sunday after the Washington Redskins‘ 21-13 loss that even though line judge Thomas Symonette blew his whistle to signify Williams was out of bounds, the touchdown stood because officials believed he would have scored anyway.

“By rule, Carolina should have been given a choice of putting the ball in play where Williams was ruled to have stepped out of bounds — 1st-and-10 from the Washington 17 yard-line — or replaying the down – 1st-and-10 from the Washington 30,” an NFL spokesman said in a statement.

“They had to admit that even if they didn’t want to. You take a look at the film,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “I didn’t know it was that bad until I looked at the film. Yeah, that was an obvious mistake.”

Redskins linebacker Perry Riley heard the whistle and pulled up rather than pushing Williams out of bounds. Cheffers did not take that into account when telling a pool reporter about the decision to uphold the touchdown.

“We had a lot of discussion about it. We just felt when the whistle blew, that the player would have already scored a touchdown,” he said Sunday. “So, we tried to piece together if we had to spot — by rule, we would have to put him down when the whistle blew, and we tried to decide where that spot would be, and we felt that spot would be in the end zone.”

Because it was a scoring play, instant replay official Charles Stewart automatically reviewed it, checking only to ensure that Williams remained in bounds.

“By rule, Stewart was not able to intercede with regard to the inadvertent whistle,” the NFL spokesman said.

The Panthers took a 7-3 lead on the first-quarter touchdown and never trailed the rest of the game.

Garcon, Meriweather unsure to return after bye week

Because of the bye week, the banged-up Redskins have extra time to prepare for their next game, Nov. 18 against the Philadelphia Eagles. But it’s uncertainwhether two injured starters will return.

Wide receiver Pierre Garcon is dealing with a sprained right foot, and safety Brandon Meriweather sprained ligaments in his left knee.

“I feel a little bit better about Brandon than I do Pierre right now,” Shanahan said. “For some reason, it’s one of those freak injuries, you can’t understand why. Doctors can’t explain it. But it hurts, and enough where he cant push off and get to where he was before. It’s discouraging and disheartening, but he’s dealing with it. I know one thing: When he can play, he’ll play.”

Shanahan said quarterback Robert Griffin III had a shot to alleviate pain in his ribs at halftime Sunday. He also indicated that running back Alfred Morris was dealing with a sore shoulder and that’s why he was not used on the game’s final drive.

Cap penalty lingers

With the Redskins at 3-6 and trying to stay afloat with a bevy of injuries, Shanahan said Monday that the NFL’s $36 million cap penalty put a dent in free agent plans.

“Obviously, that’s very strong. You’re talking about $36 million. And you find out 10 minutes before your free agency starts,” he said. “You plan something for 2 ½ years and you find out 10 minutes through the newspaper that you just got hit with [a] $36 million [penalty]. So, yeah, it is a wake-up call.”

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