Week 3: Washington at Philadelphia (video)
Video via Deadspin.
A fourth-quarter interception led to a swarming hive of fighting after the play. And ejections. And a replay review. And … well, let’s break it down:
First, Washington nose tackle Chris Baker drills Eagles quarterback Nick Foles after the interception. A roughing-the-passer foul is assessed on Baker. Eagles offensive tackle Jason Peters retaliated in the ensuing scrum. Both Baker and Peters are ejected. Referee Tony Corrente got on the microphone to instruct, “All players return to the bench area.”
Then, the interception was reversed on review. In this situation, any fouls that occur after the new dead-ball mark are picked up, except for 15-yard fouls. The ejections are still enforced and the roughing-the-passer foul stays.
Also, Foles was injured on the play, which ordinarily would require him to sit out a down. Because the injury was caused by a foul, that requirement is waived.
Finally, the Eagles ran out of offensive linemen on their bench with the ejection of Peters. Strictly by the rules, this meant that there would be more than usual shuffling for any more injury to the offensive line. Since offensive linemen wear numbers 60 to 79 (except centers are 50 to 79), it seemed that the options were to put an appropriately labeled player on the offensive line, or use the eligible receiver rule to convert a blocking tight end to a full-fledged lineman.
I’ve been told by some former officials that this situation really doesn’t come up, and there likely would not be any objection to playing an off-numbered player out of position, especially if the player was not wearing the number of an eligible receiver. The rule is in place to avoid a tactical insertion of a player out of position, rather than being due to attrition.
“I’ve never encountered anything like that at all,” said former NFL supervisor and official Jim Daopoulos. “It’s never even been a consideration.”