The Eagles were rightly upset Sunday night about the opening kickoff in their 29-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. 

Kamu Grugier-Hill called it “ridiculous” and Malcolm Jenkins said the folks making the call at the command center should “stay off the bottle.”

NBC Sports Football Rule Analyst Terry McAulay was a guest on Philly Sports Talk tonight so I got to ask him a pretty important question about this play and the NFL’s decision to not give the Eagles possession. 

In his explanation Sunday night to a pool reporter, referee Clete Blakeman explained the reason the Eagles weren’t awarded the ball was that they couldn’t confirm a clear recovery by the Eagles on the angles they had. 

But it turns out they don’t actually need to see a clear recovery to give the Eagles the ball. 

I asked McAulay if the bosses in New York are allowed to take a leap and use some deductive reasoning. Even if they don’t see a clear recovery by an Eagle are they allowed to assume the Eagles recovered the football because only Eagles were in the pile around the football? Do they actually need to see a recovery? 

His answer is interesting: 

No they don’t. You’re actually right. They do not have to see video evidence of a recovery. The rule book specifically states that if there’s a pile and there’s only players of one team then that team gets the football. And that’s really … just like you guys, that’s exactly what I see here. There’s a Dallas player off to the side on his back that can’t possibly be anywhere near the football. So the definitive shot that I saw had three Eagles players on top and you actually see a little bit of the football at one point. It’s common sense that tells you, it jumps out at you that it’s a clear and obvious recovery by the kicking team, in this case Philadelphia.


Yeah, common sense. 

It’s sort of like in hockey when a goalie catches a puck but his entire glove is in the net. You don’t actually see the puck cross the line, but they’re allowed to assume it’s a goal because there’s no other logical outcome. 

That’s exactly what happened here and, for some reason, they blew the call. 

McAuley speculated that the NFL is working hard to find reasons to not overturn calls. He thinks that they opportunistically saw a Dallas player somewhere near the pile and used that as a reason to not overturn the call. 

And it’s important to remember it’s not on Blakeman at this point. The officials on the field blew it first by not getting the call right on the field, but after that, it’s the call of the head honchos in New York. Specifically, McAulay said it’s up to Al Riveron and Russell Yurk. The ref on the field can have a say, but the final call belongs to the guys in New York. 

And on this one, they just got it wrong. 

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