LANDOVER, Md. - Dick Jauron knew what Joe Gibbs did not.
Jauron, the Buffalo Bills' coach, saw Gibbs and the Redskins call a second consecutive timeout in an effort to ice his kicker with 8 seconds left.
"That's 15 yards," Jauron said.
That 15 penalty yards made Rian Lindell's 51-yard try 36 yards. In a cold rain, down by two, Lindell had already made the 51-yarder - but it was ruled a nonplay because, just before the snap, Gibbs called timeout.
That cheapish move is the fashionable strategic innovation of this season. Calling consecutive timeouts was never allowed, but, until 2005, there was no penalty (the horse-collar rule change got most of the publicity that season). That season the NFL instituted a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for calling consecutive timeouts to minimize distractions to the kicker.
Gibbs said he asked an official - presumably side judge Dyrol Prioleau - if he could call a second straight timeout.
"I felt like he said, 'Yes,' " Gibbs said. "Then he said, 'When do you want to call it?' and I said, 'Right now.' "
Gibbs called the timeout. He was called for the penalty. Lindell nailed the kick.
Referee Tony Corrente explained afterward, "If the kicker is on the field and in position to kick the ball . . . if that [second] timeout is called to freeze the kicker, by rule, it becomes unsportsmanlike conduct."
Gibbs apologized to the team then publicly accepted the blame.
"I told the team that it was a huge decision on my part that very likely could have cost us the game," said Gibbs, apparently assuming Lindell would miss a second 51-yarder. "I should know the rule. I can't blame that on somebody else. I should have known."