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John Hussey: Terry McLaurin clearly off the line, official not obligated to help him line up

Ron Rivera gets candid with the media following the Commanders' 20-12 loss to the Giants in Week 15, which included numerous questionable calls from officials.

The Commanders had a touchdown wiped off the board late in Sunday’s 20-12 loss to the Giants due to an illegal formation penalty on wide receiver Terry McLaurin;

After the game, McLaurin said that he checked with an official to see if he was correctly lined up on the line of scrimmage and was told to move up a little bit, which he did before being flagged after the ball was snapped. Pool reporter Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post asked referee John Hussey about the crucial call and whether the official is obligated to tell a player if he is lined up correctly.

Hussey said he didn’t see the interaction because he was well behind the line of scrimmage before the play, but noted that no such obligation exists.

“Not typically, and the official could be doing other things, like counting the offense – there’s a multitude of different duties,” Hussey said. “So, I can’t confirm whether the official even saw that or not, but he was clearly off the line of scrimmage. . . . 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 one-and-a-half-yard line. In order to be deemed legal he needs to break the belt line, 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.”

Hussey was also asked about the Commanders’ final offensive play. It was a fourth down pass to wide receiver Curtis Samuel and Hussey was asked about the lack of a flag for defensive pass interference.
“Pass interference is a judgment call,” Hussey said. “To the officials it didn’t rise to what they felt was a restriction, thus they didn’t call it. That’s basically the bottom line there. It’s a judgment call and they didn’t believe it was pass interference.”

Had either call gone the Commanders’ way, the game could have gone to overtime and their spot in the playoff order might be a bit stronger. Either way, though, the Commanders would be left with work to do in the final three weeks to book passage to the postseason.