The Washington Redskins thought they had a first down, so, too did the chain gang. One group did not think it was a first down and, ultimately, they were the group that mattered: the officials.

And that led to controversy at the end of the Redskins' 24-17 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday night.

It started with a second-and-5 completion to receiver Pierre Garcon to the Redskins' 45-yard line with one minute, 37 seconds remaining. The officials marked him short of the first down, but the chains on the Redskins' sideline moved as if Garcon had been awarded a first down.

There was no doubt in the Redskins' minds that they had a first down. There was no doubt for referee Jeff Triplette that it was third down.

"We signaled third down on the field," Triplette told pool reporter Zac Boyer of the Washington Times. "The stakes were moved incorrectly. After that play, we said it was still third down. We had signaled third down prior to the play starting. The chains just got moved incorrectly."

The players saw the chains and thought Garcon had made a first down.

"The chains moved right away and it was first down," Redskins guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. "Next thing I know it's not. ... We thought it was first and 10 so we ran the play. Next thing we know it's fourth and 1 all of a sudden. I don't know how they can take it back. I feel if it's marked, you have to go with it. That changes everything for our offense."