Blaming the referees for a loss always seems like a weak cop-out. The reffing in Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers obviously wasn’t the main reason for the Eagles’ first defeat of their 2018 season, but it absolutely played a factor in the outcome. The final tally for penalties was six for the Eagles and four for the Buccaneers. At first glance it looks like an evenly called game, but the timing of the calls are what caused the Eagles to fall to 1-1.
On their second drive of the game, Nick Foles had the Eagles offense rolling – two consecutive first downs had the team near midfield. Their drive went downhill from there, as penalties on three of the next four plays had the Eagles facing a historic 3rd & 41. The Eagles offense went on to sputter the rest of the first half. If those penalties aren’t all called on that drive, who knows if the offense ends up putting more than 21 points in the game.
On the Buccaneers last drive of the game – the drive that the Eagles desperately needed an early stop on – Ryan Fitzpatrick targeted Mike Evans on a 3rd and short pass. Jalen Mills was called for holding, and Evans still recorded a catch. When looking back on replay, Mike Evans can be clearly seen grabbing Mills’ face-mask.
— Brian Coulter (@PhilaBCoulter) September 16, 2018
The play could have been called offensive pass-interference, or at least a penalty on both players to offset each other and re-do the 3rd down play. Do the Eagles stop Fitzpatrick on the re-do 3rd down attempt? Maybe, maybe not. With hindsight, I’m sure Mills and the Eagles defense would have loved a second shot at stopping the Bucs earlier on their drive.