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The Washington Commanders (7-6-1) got hosed with two pivotal referee decisions in the final seconds of their 20-12 loss to NFC East division rival the New York Giants (8-5-1) on Sunday Night Football at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.

On 3rd & Goal, with 1:03 left in the game, Commanders running back Brian Robinson TD rush was negated by a 5-yd illegal formation penalty on wide receiver Terry McLaurin. NFL referee John Hussey called the play back because of a technicality — Commanders wide receiver McLaurin was not completely on the line of scrimmage when the ball was snapped and called for an illegal formation penalty.

"I checked to see if I was good the first time, and he was like, ‘Move up a little bit," McLaurin told reporters after the game. “So when I moved up, I checked to see if I was good, and he said I was good.”

Hussey said he did not see any exchange between McLaurin and the official before the snap, via ESPN.

"What I was told and what has been confirmed is that the ball was snapped at the half-yard line, and he was lined up a yard back at the 1½-yard line," Hussey explained to a reporter after the game. "In order to be deemed legal, he needs to break the beltline, the waist of the center, and he was not breaking the waistline of the center. That's why the penalty was called, because he was not in a legal formation."

Washignton was backed up five yards from the previous spot. Two plays later, after a failed attempt on third down, the Commanders found themselves with their backs against the wall with 56 seconds left on the clock.

On fourth-and-goal from the 6-yard line, quarterback Taylor Heinicke scrambled around and threw to Curtis Samuel in the middle of the end zone. Giants cornerback Darnay Holmes was smothered all over Samuel in what was considered textbook pass interference, but the officiating crew did not see Holmes' arms over the Commanders receiver in real-time, and no flag was thrown.

“It’s clearly a foul,” explained former NFL referee and NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay on Sunday Night Football. McAulay added, “He grabs his arm, he plays through the back, it’s clearly before the ball gets there.”

It was the Commanders second costly call involving pass interference in Sunday’s game.

Washington also was upset with an offensive pass interference penalty that wiped out a 2-point conversion in the third quarter. The offensive pass interference call on rookie Jahan Dotson forced kicker Joey Slye to attempt a 43-yard extra point instead, and he missed. However, it was the final sequence of referee decisions at the end of the fourth quarter that stood out because Washington was out of chances after there was no call on the pass interference and the illegal formation call.

After Sunday's loss, the Commanders dropped to fourth place in the highly competitive NFC East.

There is still a chance all four teams from the NFC East make the 2022 playoffs. With the Detroit Lions mid-season resurgence, the Lions are 7-7 and neck-and-neck with the Commanders for a playoff spot. Should the two teams finish with the same record, the Lions hold the head-to-head advantage with their 36-27 win on Sept. 18 over the Commanders.

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