Crushing Penalty Seals Huge ‘Monday Night Football’ Upset – Was It the Right Call?

A key fourth-quarter penalty helped keep a Washington Commanders drive alive as they ended the Philadelphia Eagles’ unbeaten streak Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

Washington would go on to win 32-21, but the score was only 26-21 with time enough for last-minute heroics by the Eagles when Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke scrambled a bit looking for an open receiver on third-and-7.

Finding none, he took a knee with Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick closing in.

After Reddick slid into the quarterback, defensive end Brandon Graham arrived to make sure Heinicke was down to stay — and as he struck the quarterback, his shoulder appeared to hit Heinicke’s helmet.

The Commanders quarterback immediately gestured for an unnecessary roughness flag, and he got it.

A jubilant Heinicke then danced to his feet, knowing that the NFL’s focus on protecting quarterbacks would keep the drive alive and likely seal the win for his team.

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“That last play, we called a slant for Terry [McLaurin], and it was one of those things where if he’s open, give it to him, and if not, take a sack,” Heinicke said afterward, according to The Washington Post.

“I was not going to throw it unless he was wide open. When I took that knee and I saw them coming at me, I was hoping they’d come at me and, sure enough, they did. It was a mistake on their end but, hey, we’ll live with it,” he said.

Referee Alex Kemp explained that the penalty was called because Heinicke “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,” Kemp said, according to ESPN.

Many on social media argued the merits of the call.

Graham, however, did not make excuses in explaining the play.

“I was just trying to touch him down, because it just looked like he was going to get up. You just never know. But that’s on me. I own that one. That’s on me,” he said.


Last month, Reddick offered his perspective on the NFL’s passer protection policy in comments to Sports Illustrated.

“Here I am trying to get to the quarterback, so you want me to take time to think about how I’m going to tackle him or bring him down to the ground?” he said.

“In this league now, we have QBs that scramble really, really well,” Reddick said. ” Like, if I’m trying to do my job, I can’t … that’s a split-second. As soon as I touch him he could go down like that and the play might be over, so how can I have full awareness on what my body is doing, especially in today’s league?”

“I can’t be sitting around thinking how I’m going to approach a tackle on a QB because he’s a QB. What if I’m trying to figure out how to do it, and now he breaks out of it and he’s scrambling down the field for 20 yards or he threw a deep bomb because I’m worried about not getting a penalty?” he said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.