PHILADELPHIA – The officiating is always in the eye of the beholder.
“You win some calls, you lose some calls,” Eagles safety Nate Allen said. “When you win the game, it’s easier to accept the ones you lose.”
Referee Tony Corrente’s crew played a major role in the Eagles’ 24-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals Sunday. Their work may have been good or it may have been bad, but it looked beautiful when the Eagles beheld it.
“The refs let us play a little bit today,” Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher said. “So I think that is a good thing, especially on our end.”
It was one of three key fourth-quarter calls that went the Eagles’ way. The first came earlier, when Nick Foles made a rare poor decision and threw the ball while being tackled. It floated into the arms of Cardinals’ cornerback Patrick Peterson.
The interception would have stopped Foles’ streak at 19 touchdowns passes without a pick, one shy of the NFL record. It also would have given the Cardinals the ball in Eagles territory with plenty of time to score a go-ahead touchdown.
Instead, a defensive holding penalty on safety Tyrann Mathieu gave the Eagles a first down.
“The interception call was definitely holding,” said Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant, who was held on the play. “Listen, man, when it comes to pass interference I don’t know the definition of it anymore. I was just hoping, especially when I saw 21 (Peterson) with the ball in his hands. I just started looking around. There was a flag where I had been.”
After Fletcher ended the Cardinals’ last offensive possession, the Eagles had a third down from the Arizona 9. They were trying to run as much time off the clock as possible. Foles rolled to his right, looking for tight end James Casey in the flat.
Foles was taken down, which would have brought up fourth down with 1:42 left on the clock. Instead, Arizona linebacker Matt Shaughnessy was called for holding Casey. From the replay, it looked like Shaughnessy was fighting off a Casey block and got his hand stuck.
“He was blocking down on me,” Shaughnessy said. “I was fighting the pressure, pushing him outside and he tried to release. I threw him down and then I went after the quarterback.”
Ah, the eye of the beholder.
“He held the crap out of him,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. “It was a great call. Watch it on film. (Casey) is supposed to run a route into the flat and there was no one else left (to cover him). If they didn’t hold him, he would have been in the flat.”
To their credit, the Cardinals didn’t complain publicly about the calls. They made enough mistakes early in the game to leave themselves at the mercy of the officials later.
“We didn’t make enough plays to win the football game,” Mathieu said.