After the Vikings' 32-21 loss, Childress talked extensively about the Redskins being able to change personnel following a close sideline reception and hurrying to get another snap off before the Vikings had a chance to challenge Santana Moss' 23-yard toe-dragging reception. It all took place surrounding the nine-minute mark in the fourth quarter and Washington holding onto a 25-14 lead.
On the morning after, Childress isn't so sure that the Redskins changed personnel; rather, they may have just changed the formation by splitting their fullback out wide, he said. If they had changed personnel, Childress maintained on Sunday night that the officials should have given the Vikings a chance to match the personnel, but instead the Redskins snapped the ball, fumbled it away to Minnesota and then challenged that the Vikings had 12 men on the field.
Video replays show that defensive tackle Spencer Johnson was still getting off the field when the Redskins snapped the ball, and Childress didn't dispute the fact that Johnson didn't get off and that Washington could challenge that part of the play.
The official reviewed it and awarded possession back to the Redskins and penalized the Vikings 5 yards for having 12 men on the field.
"The way it looked to me was that there was a sub personnel grouping in the game and why I thought that was because of the sideline pictures I was looking at with them in an (I-formation) backfield," Childress explained on Monday. "I'm still having trouble figuring out who the receiver was on the bottom of the page, on the field closest to us. But it looked like they had the same fullback and tight end in the game in a spread-out alignment and we got a nickel call from above. … That's how we got caught with the 12.
"I will, however, say that there were two referees – one right by the side of me where the guy (Johnson) was running at him and one up the field where a flag didn't come out. If there was 12 on the field, there was 12 on the field."
Childress said it now looks like the Redskins' personnel grouping could be the same as it was on the previous play, and therefore the officials wouldn't have been inclined to allow the Vikings to make a defensive switch. However, Childress said he still hasn't seen a TV copy of the game, while the NFL's head of officials, Mike Pereira, is searching for the coaches copy.
However, a check of the widescreen TV replay shows that the Redskins did, indeed have the same personnel in the game as the previous play, with Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle-El split out wide opposite of each other, Chris Cooley lined up as a tight end on the left side of the line and Clinton Portis in the backfield. The only difference in their alignment from the previous play was that Brian Kozlowski moved from the fullback position to the slot on the right side of the field.
Childress admitted that the league wouldn't be able to do anything now, but the video evidence shows that the Redskins didn't do anything wrong on their hurry-up play and that the Vikings may have gotten bad advice from their booth to try to change to their nickel personnel, as Kozlowski was lined up in the slot, not a receiver.
After his Monday press conference, Childress told Viking Update that he still has his doubts about Moss' catch before that fumbled snap. He said two officials signaled that Moss made the catch and that he was considering challenging that the receiver had possession and both feet down.
On the TV replay, Al Michaels said that Childress was looking at the Jumbotron to see if he should challenge, and Childress even said Monday that a still picture shows him with his hand on the flag in his back pocket.
What the TV video doesn't show is the typical rubber pellets bouncing off the carpet when a receiver drags his toe. Childress said he didn't see that or a scuff mark made in the turf, but a high-definition view might show that scuff being made. That part is somewhat inconclusive.
In hindsight, it may have been a play worth challenging, but the Redskins astutely used their hurry-up offense and their ensuing challenge flags to catch the Vikings with 12 men on the field. It may or may not have made a difference on back-to-back plays with the Vikings trailing by 11 points at the time, but it all made for good Sunday night fodder and Monday morning second-guessing, even by the coach himself.
"I think the thing about our team is it is hungry, it is humble, it is focused, it is committed, and just like we talked about in the locker room last night, I have no doubt that they'll come back with the same look in their eye and the same resolve that they had after the last time they lost, which was after the Green Bay Packers game," Childress said. "Obviously they know what's at stake and we'll re-frame the thing and all of our focus will go on to the Denver Broncos, and in fact it already has."