I believe that, if the officials in Sunday night's game had stopped play to figure out and correct the down-marker error in the final two minutes, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin would have been the one going ballistic on his sideline. The Washington Redskins had no timeouts, and after the game the officials explained that this was the reason they didn't stop the action. Doing so would have effectively given Washington a free timeout and created, as the officials said, an unfair advantage.
In the end, the Giants didn't care, because (a) they won the game, (b) they didn't think the Redskins had a first down anyway, so they believed the correct call was ultimately made and (c) play was not stopped and no unfair advantage created. But the NFL said Monday that play should have been stopped due to "obvious confusion," and I think I have to agree. Obvious confusion is always a good reason to stop, take a moment and look things over. This applies in our daily lives as well as in football, especially during this hectic holiday season. The NFL could call this the "Wait, wait, wait" rule and hail it as a rare bend toward common sense.
Anyway, the Redskins were probably right to be upset, since it's likely they'd have called their plays differently if they'd thought it was third and then fourth down as opposed to first and second. But it's all moot, since they converted the fourth down anyway only to see Giants safety Will Hill strip the ball from Pierre Garcon's arms and seal a Giants victory. "Obvious confusion" or no, bad things happen to you when you don't hold onto the ball.