ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - Apparently even a Hall of Fame coach doesn't get a break from the officials.
Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs on Tuesday reviewed the tape of the previous night's loss to the Dallas Cowboys and determined he was on the wrong side of "two awful calls."
"I don't get focused on that stuff. It doesn't do any good to talk about it," Gibbs said. "But I'll tell you this - you couldn't get anything farther from what should have been called in both cases. Both of them were touchdowns; both of them go against us."
Disputable calls that went both ways played a significant part in Dallas' 21-18 victory.
"You're frustrated. You're mad, and realize that in close games you need to have those things called correctly," Gibbs said. "I've been in it long enough to know that just doesn't happen sometimes, too. They miss a lot of stuff."
Gibbs was particularly unhappy with a first-quarter pass interference call on Walt Harris, who was grabbed first by Dallas receiver Terry Glenn. The 40-yard penalty gave Dallas the ball on the 1-yard line, and the Cowboys scored on the next play.
Then, in the fourth quarter, with Washington trailing 21-10, Rod Gardner just missed chasing down a long pass in the end zone with defensive back Terence Newman trailing.
That play was worth Gibbs' blow-by-blow review.
"The DB is at his back, not looking at all backward toward the passer," Gibbs said. "He's just looking at Rod. When he goes into the end zone he took his arm and he comes down and hooks Rod's arm and pulls it down before the ball got there."
Gibbs said both plays have been sent to the NFL office for review, the usual procedure for any calls that are questionable.
Gibbs didn't mention another call that went against the Redskins, a muffed punt jarred loose by Mike Sellers. The play was ruled down by contact.
Or, for that matter, an important call that went the Redskins' way: running back Clinton Portis not being ruled down by contact on a key third down even though his knee had clearly touched the ground.
The disputable calls, replay challenges, penalties and wasted timeouts made for a game that had no flow and was sometimes laborious to watch. Despite his comments about the officiating, Gibbs was the first to acknowledge that the Redskins could have won the game simply by making fewer mistakes on offense.
Mark Brunell started slowly and was sacked five times. A first-and-goal at the 1 resulted in just a field goal. Two vital timeouts were wasted in the third quarter, and Gibbs then used his last one early in the fourth quarter on a replay challenge that was correctly upheld.
"On offense, we're not real smooth over there," Gibbs said.
Laveranues Coles dropped three passes in the first quarter, although Gibbs revealed Tuesday that Coles had dislocated a finger early in the game and kept playing without telling the trainer.
Gibbs went out of his way to defend Brunell, who rallied to make some pinpoint passes on the move in the second half to keep the game close. Brunell, playing on a sore hamstring, was 25-of-43 for 325 yards.
"It was a heroic effort on his part," Gibbs said. "He did miss a lot of practice because of the hamstring. I thought it was a great performance. He was very, very accurate on some of those things."
Gibbs, who retired from the NFL and spent the last 11 seasons in NASCAR until the Redskins lured him back in January, took the blame for the wasted timeouts, which were called by Brunell in the third quarter to avoid delay-of-game penalties. They would have been vital when the Cowboys were winding down the clock in the final minutes. Gibbs said he has made his offense a bit too complex.
"I've got to simplify some things in there package-wise," Gibbs said. "We're trying to do too much. We shouldn't get caught in those situations."