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Eagles’ first loss of NFL season marred by brutal missed face mask

The Eagles lost their first game of the season to the Commanders on “Monday Night Football” — but, as seems to be the case for many NFL games, it wasn’t without some officiating controversy.

In the fourth quarter with the Eagles trailing 23-21, Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts threw a pass to Dallas Goedert, who turned to run upfield but was tackled by Commanders linebacker Jamin Davis and lost the football. Washington recovered the fumble, but video replay made it overwhelmingly clear that Davis grabbed Goedert’s facemask as he was going to the ground.

Washington defensive tackle John Ridgeway actually ran the fumble into the end zone for a touchdown, and a lengthy review followed. However, the only change the officials made to the call was to mark Ridgeway down at the 34-yard line.

Jamin Davis grabs Dallas Goedert's face mask
The Commanders’ Jamin Davis grabs Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert’s facemask on Nov. 14, 2022.

“We didn’t see a face mask on the field,” referee Alex Kemp explained to reporters after the game. “As far as the review, we were reviewing whether he was down by contact or whether it was a fumble and then whether the Washington player who recovered the ball was also down by contact.”

The Commanders ended up kicking a field goal on the drive, extending their lead to five points and forcing Philadelphia into a situation where they needed a touchdown instead of a field goal to take the lead. The Eagles ended up fumbling again on the next possession, with Quez Watkins coughing up the ball this time.

Philadelphia can also make the argument that they had a last-gasp effort taken away by the officials at the end of the game. With Washington holding the ball on third down with less than two minutes left, Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke tried to scramble, but slid down to keep the clock moving. However, Eagles pass rusher Brandon Graham was closing in on Heinicke, and was unable to slow his momentum, running into the quarterback after he slid.

The officials called roughing the passer and gave the Commanders a fresh set of downs. The Eagles were not thrilled with the call that ultimately sealed the game.

“That was my call,” Kemp said. “I had ruled the quarterback had clearly given himself up. Therefore, he is down and a defenseless player. The contact by Philadelphia No. 55 was not only late but also to the head and neck area.”

After the loss, the Eagles downplayed the impact the officiating had in the final score.

“Whether it was a face mask or whether it wasn’t a face mask, it’s hard for them to see at that time. I get it,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni told reporters. “We have to protect the ball better, and we didn’t do a good job of that all game. We were loose with the football, and it came out and they got it.”

Philadelphia, now 8-1, travels in Week 11 to face the Indianapolis Colts who are coming off a win in Jeff Saturday’s coaching debut over the Raiders.

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