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Philadelphia fight fest forces flying flags

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.”


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Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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6 thoughts on “Philadelphia fight fest forces flying flags

  1. Rule 12.2.13(7) A passer who is standing still or fading backwards after the ball has left his hand is obviously out of the play and must not be unnecessarily contacted by the defense through the end of the play or until the passer becomes a blocker, or until he becomes a runner upon taking a lateral from a teammate or picking up a loose ball, or, in the event of a change of possession on the play, until the passer assumes a distinctly defensive position. However, at any time after the change of possession, it is a foul if (a) an opponent forcibly hits the quarterback’s head or neck area with his helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder, or (b) if an opponent lowers his head and makes forcible contact with the top/crown or forehead/”hairline” parts of his helmet against any part of the quarterback’s body. This provision (b) does not prohibit incidental contact by the mask or the helmet in the course of a conventional block.

    What constitutes a “distinctly defensive position,” and did Foles “assume” that before he was hit? At least in answer to the second part of the question, it appears he did not.

  2. I don’t understand how this was not a legal hit. Foles was clearly pursuing the play and taking an angle to make a cutback tackle. He was hit with the blocker’s shoulder into his chest, there was not helmet contact on either side.

    Is it simply a case of the refs trying to come up with a way to make a hard hit on a QB illegal?

  3. Regardless of your opinion as to whether Baker’s hit on Foles was a foul, does it make any sense that he would be ejected from the game for that hit? It seems more likely that his conduct after being pushed by Peters (essentially fighting) was the reason for his ejection. If so, there were at least 3 fouls on the play: the hit on Foles, and the two USC (fighting) that led to the ejections. I dont understand why the first foul (roughing the passer/late hit/unecessary roughness) against Baker was not enforced?

  4. When you have live-ball and dead-ball fouls, they combine as live-ball fouls. They all offset, even if there were 11 on one team and 1 on the other.

    They probably could have issued a second USC on Baker for grabbing and yanking at the facemask, but it really did not matter. He was already assessed a foul in the same continuing action.

    Because the fight was in the continuing action after the play, any fouls during the fight are attached to the previous play. If, after everything was broken up, it was re-ignited by a player, that action could count as a between-downs foul, and be enforced separate from the live- and dead-ball fouls.

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