"This" refers to another officiating gaffe that guaranteed Washington didn't mount a late-game comeback. The specifics:
Facing a 2nd-and-5 from their own 41-yard-line with two minutes to go and trailing 24-17, the Redskins completed what appeared to be a four-yard pass. That would have made it 3rd and 1 ... except the head linesman signaled first down (see at the bottom of the .GIF below), the chains were moved down the field accordingly, and Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan dialed up a first-down play.
Tight end Fred Davis dropped what would have been an 18-yard gain, which should have made it 2nd-and-10 ... if not for the fact that referee Jeff Triplette signaled fourth down because the previous play never gained first-down yardage.
"They really screwed this thing up," NBC play-by-play commentator Al Michaels said at the time.
"You can't do that," Collinsworth added.
"Well, he just did," Michaels said, adding, "We saw it -- it was short of the first down, the chain gang moved to the first-down position, and then Triplette comes in after the play and says they didn't get the first down. I don't blame Mike (Shanahan) for being crazy about it."
"You can't do that!" Collinsworth interrupted. "You don't run that play if know what the down is -- you can't go back like that!"
"Absolutely," Michaels agreed. "(The officials) shouldn't have let the play go off before measuring."
On 4th-and-1, Robert Griffin III completed a six-yard pass to Pierre Garcon, who was promptly stripped by a Giants defender. Game over. Seemed like a fitting end not only to the game but to the 'Skins' already-microscopic playoff hopes -- they were officially eliminated from the 2013 postseason.
FootballZebras.com took to Twitter to explain the series of events that led up to everything going FUBAR:
Recap: LJ had the spot on play, HL has chain crew responsibility. Replay official should have also reviewed the spot. R signaled 3rd down— Football Zebras.com (@footballzebras) December 2, 2013
WAS was in hurry-up, and while HL has full responsibility for error, the clock situation is what contributed significantly to the error— Football Zebras.com (@footballzebras) December 2, 2013
When close like that, coach knows he needs to get his signal from R who always indicates down. Down box is never official— Football Zebras.com (@footballzebras) December 2, 2013
The great irony is that Triplette, considered one of the worst referees in any sport by many fans, was actually signally third down on the play in question (you can see him, in the Redskins' backfield, doing just that in the .GIF above). Why his crew completely ignored him is another matter entirely.
As for why Triplette didn't stop the clock when he saw the chains moving for a first down, well, here you go:
Triplette cannot -- CANNOT -- stop the clock in this case, b/c WAS gets free timeout. Triplette signaled 3rd down twice in the hurry-up— Football Zebras.com (@footballzebras) December 2, 2013
* .GIF via Diehard Sport