COSTA MESA, Calif. — Exactly 38 seconds ran off the clock from the time Mike Davis was tackled until the Seahawks snapped the ball on the next play.
That's not a ton of time to try to make a decision that can win or lose a football game, but that's part of being an NFL head coach.
Doug Pederson and the Eagles were faced with that exact situation on Sunday night in the 24-10 loss to the Seahawks. On the fourth-quarter lateral play from Russell Wilson to Davis, the Seahawks picked up a huge first-down conversion.
With the benefit of time, it looks pretty clear that it was a forward pass, which likely would have forced a punt (see story).
But as the NBC broadcast was showing replays and debating the merits of challenging the ruling, the red flag stayed in Pederson's pocket.
On Sunday night, Pederson said he didn't challenge because it looked "legit" in real time and didn't want to risk the timeout after already losing a previous challenge.
On Monday afternoon in California, Pederson defended the decision or at least the thought process behind it.
"Well those aren't hypotheticals, those are real-time decisions," Pederson said, defending his decision a day later. "There's nothing hypothetical about giving up a timeout. I either throw it or I don't, so I have to make a real-time decision.
"I don't get the luxury of the television bringing out protractors and straight rulers and drawing lines like I guess they did and saying, 'Oh yeah, this is probably a forward pass.' I don't get that luxury. I gotta make it within 10 to 15 seconds of them running the next play.
"At that time, I didn't feel like it was necessary to challenge it, when we all felt like it wasn't going to be in our favor."
This isn't all on Pederson, of course. In instances like this, he relies on his guys up in the box. He said director of football compliance Jon Ferrari and coaching assistant Ryan Paganetti are his eyes in the sky. He has direct communication with them.
There are times, Pederson said, that he'll go with his own gut feeling on a play instead of listening to Ferrari and Paganetti. Those instances are when he thinks he had a better vantage point of something from the field.
This season, Pederson is 1 for 4 on challenges and is 7 for 14 since he became a head coach. That's a pretty good success rate. It's higher than Andy Reid and Bill Belichick.
On Sunday night, Pederson said the Seahawks did a good job of rushing to the line to snap the ball, but it probably just seemed that way because he was trying to make a tough decision in a limited amount of time. The Seahawks actually didn't snap the ball for the next play until there were just two seconds remaining on the play clock.
"We're getting whatever feed we can get," Pederson said. "Of course on the sideline, we don't get the luxury of replay. The big screen in the stadium doesn't hold any water for us. And yet sometimes you're only given what the network can give you at the time. That's been our protocol. It's been a really good protocol for us this whole season."