The Philadelphia Eagles' opening drive Monday night against the Redskins was everything football fans have come to expect from Chip Kelly: frantic, exciting, furiously up-tempo. And the Eagles were on the brink of cashing that possession in for six points, until a bizarre and controversial play resulted in a touchdown in the other direction.
On first-and-goal from the Redskins' four-yard line, Michael Vick attempted to swing a pass out to LeSean McCoy, who was looping around out of the backfield. Washington's Ryan Kerrigan got his hand in the way, though, batting Vick's pass to the ground. Kerrigan's teammate, DeAngelo Hall, then scooped it up and sauntered 75 or so yards to the Philadelphia end zone for a stunning defensive touchdown.
The ruling on the field was that Vick's pass had been thrown backwards, thus making it a fumble when Kerrigan deflected it. After a lengthy video review, referee Ron Winter declared that the play would stand -- meaning that there was not enough evidence to confirm the call on the field, nor was there anything to overturn it and give the ball back to Philadelphia.
Here's a GIF of the play, via SBNation:
Several of the replays shown by ESPN made it appear as if Vick had thrown the ball forward. ESPN's officiating guru, former NFL ref Gerry Austin, declared that he thought Vick had thrown from the 9 1/2-yard line and Kerrigan had made contact with the ball at "about the 9-and-one-quarter" mark.
Sorry, that's not backwards. Unless Vick is throwing a banana ball. pic.twitter.com/c6eDJ1QObGHowever, at least one of the angles offered gave the impression of a backwards pass -- and that's enough, given the ruling on the field. Without conclusive evidence to reverse the call, Winter stuck with the crew's initial ruling, giving the season's first Monday night game a very unusual beginning.
— World of Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) September 9, 2013