Eagles

Over 23,000 sign online petition to ban Pete Morelli from reffing Eagles games

Over 23,000 sign online petition to ban Pete Morelli from reffing Eagles games

Should veteran NFL referee Pete Morelli be banned from officiating Eagles games? More than 23,000 people say yes.

After watching Morelli and his crew penalize the Eagles dramatically more than their opponent for a fourth straight Eagles game the crew has officiated, Will Philbrick of Little Rock, Arkansas, went to change.org and created a petition to present to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell complaining about Morelli’s track record working Eagles games.

As of Sunday morning, the petition had 23,074 signatures.

The Eagles beat the Panthers and Morelli Thursday night in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Eagles were penalized 10 times for 126 yards, and the Panthers just once for one yard. It was the first time in NFL history one team was assessed 120 or more penalty yards and its opponent was assessed fewer than 10 penalty yards.

This is nothing new.

Morelli also worked the Eagles-Lions game in Detroit last year, when the Eagles were penalized 14 times for 111 yards and the Lions twice for 18 yards.

In fact, in the last four Eagles games that Morelli has worked, the Eagles have been flagged 40 times for 396 yards and their opponents just eight times for 74 yards.

"NFL Referee Pete Morelli has a clear and statistically obvious bias against the Philadelphia Eagles," the petition reads. "Over the last four games that he has officiated that the Eagles were playing in, the Eagles were flagged a total of 40 times for 396 yards, while the Eagles opponent in those games were flagged a mere 8 times for 74 yards. This is unacceptable and puts the Philadelphia Eagles at a disadvantage. Preventing Morelli from refereeing Eagles games will result in a more trustworthy and honest NFL. This will benefit the entire league and keep all claims of conspiracy to a normal level."

Morelli, 65, is in his 21st season with the NFL and his 15th as a referee.

Torrey Smith totally redeems himself

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AP Images

Torrey Smith totally redeems himself

After an all-too-familiar drop, Torrey Smith assured Nick Foles he would redeem himself. What followed was one of the most memorable catches in Eagles history: a 41-yard flea flicker in an NFC Championship Game.

Smith struggled with dropped passes all season long and never really materialized as the consistent deep threat the Eagles hoped for. But the seventh-year veteran knew they had the Vikings' number and plead with Foles to keep taking shots down the field.

Finally, Smith reeled in the long touchdown that felt like the dagger in the Eagles' 38-7 victory.

"We were talking about it all week, and we knew we were going to hit on one," Smith said postgame. "Just don't do anything differently, and I knew he was going to come back at some point."

Despite the trickery at the line of scrimmage, there was a high degree of difficulty involved with the catch. With All-Pro Vikings safety Harrison Smith in hot pursuit, Smith cradled the pass over his right shoulder as it came plummeting back to earth, got two feet inbounds and maintained control of the football while being tackled to the ground.

No matter. Smith wasn't about to let that one fall incomplete.

"I thought it I was inbounds, but I knew it was pretty close," Smith said. "Probably should've dragged my foot, but the ball kind of disappears a little bit when you catch it at that angle, and I wanted to catch it first."

Smith failed to haul in a potential 50-yard gain on the Eagles' first possession. The ball was slightly underthrown by Foles, allowing Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes to get back into the play and break up the pass.

Still, the ball was in Smith's hands, and he took full responsibility, going so far as to approach Foles on the sideline after the Eagles' drive ended in a punt.

"I had it," Smith said. "I should've caught it.

"I just told him, 'Don't do anything different.' I don't want him to think that it's his fault. That's my fault. That's a play I can make. I knew it was going to be contested when I slowed up a little bit, but that's a play I can make and I should make."

The opportunity for redemption came in the third quarter. Already leading the Vikings 24-7, Eagles coach Doug Pederson decided to go straight for the jugular after halftime, capping off an eight-play, 75-yard drive with the flea flicker.

Smith sold the call brilliantly, running at half speed to fool Waynes into thinking the ball was going elsewhere, only to take off and leave the defensive back in his dust.

"I knew that I had to get far enough down the field that he thinks I'm releasing like a pass, but then get my eyes back like lazy receivers do sometimes," Smith said. "We all do it, where you're like kind of looking to see where the ball is going.

"He looked, and I took off."

With the cornerback out of the play, the safety help was a little too late to break up a perfectly delivered pass from Foles.

"I don't know if I've ever run a flea flicker," Foles said. "It was my first time so I just tried not to smile. Any time you're a quarterback and you can have a play like that, it's pretty exciting."

Smith has taken his share of criticism throughout the season, finishing sixth in the NFL out of 94 qualifying receivers in drop rate, according to Pro Football Focus. Prior to Sunday, he caught just two passes of 40 yards or more all season long.

Yet neither Foles nor Pederson lost confidence in Smith and were comfortable going to the veteran wideout when it was time to drive the final nail in the Vikings' coffin.

"Nick did a great job of stepping up and sliding right, and then what a finish," Pederson said. "What a catch by Torrey, and right in the front corner of the end zone."

Just how injured is Tom Brady's throwing hand?

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USA Today Images

Just how injured is Tom Brady's throwing hand?

Tom Brady's hand injury didn't end up costing the Patriots the AFC title game. But the Patriots quarterback wasn't always so sure that would be the case.

On WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show, Brady went into some detail as to what he was thinking when the injury occurred, how it happened, and how his bit of bad luck was followed by some good fortune. 

"We ran into each other, and my thumb just got bent back," Brady said. "It wasn't his helmet or anything. It just kind of got bent back, and that's why I thought it was a lot worse. The doctors checked it out and we did the things just to kind of check on everything. Fortunately there wasn't the damage that normally comes associated with that. I think we were very lucky."

Brady said once again, as he did Sunday night, that he hopes to have the stitches in his hand removed this week. Once that happens, Brady indicated that the hope was his hand would essentially be back to normal at that point.

"Because I was fortunate not to tear any ligaments or anything like that, there was no broken bones, that was obviously the best news I could ever hear based on what you thought it could be," he said. "It ended up being a lot of good luck after, I'd say, a pretty unlucky injury. It turned out to be a lot good luck it wasn't more serious than it was."