Was Phillip Daniels drawn offsides?
Lost in the midst of the Redskins' fourth quarter meltdown was this very interesting play from earlier in the half. (See video below.) The Redskins defense had held the Lions near the goal line, and Jason Hanson was set to attempt a short field goal that would draw Detroit within three. Instead, Phillip Daniels was called for encroachment, and the Lions went on to get a touchdown and the lead.
Obviously this changed every facet of the game going forward, but if everything else played out the same minus four Detroit points, the Redskins would have been leading in the final three minutes, not going for it on 4th-and-long deep in their own territory. A few observations.
1) If I could be so frank, you're gonna want to watch the left haunch of Lions long snapper Don Muhlbach. There's no audio here, so you can't hear the loud "Hut!" that accompanied his butt flinch. But I think it's better that way, because you can just watch the butt flinch and decide for yourself, independent of the distraction caused by that noise.
2) The NFL rule, I believe, goes something like this: "No player of offensive team may charge or move abruptly, after assuming set position, in such manner as to lead defense to believe snap has started."
3) The penalty was called on Daniels, but as you can see, at least five members of the Redskins defense jumped.
4) "The center moved the football on the field goal play," linebacker London Fletcher said. "You saw about three, four guys move. They're not just jumping."
I love London, but I watched the reverse angle of this about 10 times, which offered a clear view of the football as the Skins jumped. It didn't seem to move at all. It was Muhlbach's back and bum that moved.
5) Some members of the Redskins knew immediately they weren't getting the call. DeAngelo Hall, who was lined up to the extreme left of the center, walked away with his head down the instant his teammates crossed the line of scrimmage.
6) "I guess they called me for encroachment on the field goal when all of us saw the same thing. The fastest off the ball always get called," Daniels wrote on Twitter.
7) The Fox broadcast crew only showed the replay once, and neither member of the Fox team suggested that this was anything but a mistake by Daniels. At the very least, I'd say it was worth pointing out that Muhlbach seemed to move, however slightly.
8) Daniels later posted more on Twitter: "That is very illegal what the snapper did. He sqeezed the ball and his body moved forward. Everybody jumped and it should have been a penalty on the snapper for his movement. We go off ball and movement and that has not changed. Terrible call....In 15 seasons I have never been offsides. If I had that same play with the long snapper using illegal tactics 100 times, I would do the same thing 100 times. I'm not gonna let illegal [stuff] take away from me being aggressive. Refs missed the call."
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