The Washington Redskins were right in their contention that they didn't have 12 men on the field when they were penalized on a New York Giants punt in the second period Sunday night, an NFL spokesman said yesterday.
The line judge threw the flag when he saw that A. J. Johnson, who was running off the field, failed to get to the sideline before the Giants snapped the ball, according to the spokesman. The official ruled the Redskins had too many men on the field and gave the Giants a first down, which led to their second touchdown in a 24-7 victory.
It turned out Johnson, who ran off when he saw Danny Copeland come back from an injury for the play, was only the 11th Redskins because another player who was supposed to be on the field missed his assignment.
"They could have called us for stupidity, but not for too many men on the field," said Wayne Sevier, the Redskins special teams coach who protested the call to no avail.
Two other officials, the back judge and field judge, are in charge of counting the number of players on the field, but neither informed the line judge -- who assumed Johnson was the 12th player -- that the Redskins had only 11 on the field.
There is no appeal for bad calls in the NFL, but the Redskins will get a confirmation later in the week that the officials made an incorrect call.