Jason Kelce had played close to 10,000 career snaps and committed one 15-yard penalty.
Until Thursday night.
The second one could have cost the Eagles a win.
“One of the all-time dumb penalties I’ve had in my career,” Kelce said Wednesday. “A terrible penalty.”
The Eagles, trailing 21-16, had a 1st-and-goal on the Giants 3-yard-line with 51 seconds left Thursday night.
Three yards from their first home win of the season, first division win of the season and second win overall.
The Eagles were rolling, and three yards seemed like nothing.
“We were really fired up,” Kelce said. “Putting together a tremendous drive, and one of the crucial things that we always harp on for two-minute drills is no penalties, no sacks. Those are things that can devastate a drive. We had gotten all the way down to the 3.”
That’s when, on a Corey Clement run, Kelce’s hand got tangled up in the facemark of Giants defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson.
“Obviously, wasn’t trying to do it,” Kelce said Wednesday in his first chat with the media since the game. “My hand gets caught up, he did a good job of lifting my hand up, got it into the facemark and I didn’t even know I had his helmet until I looked down and it was literally in my hand.”
It was Kelce’s first 15-yard penalty since a facemark against the Bears the second week of the 2016 season and only the second of his career.
All of a sudden, that 1st-and-goal was on the 18 instead of the 3. All of a sudden, the challenge facing the Eagles appeared a lot more daunting.
“I just kind of came to the huddle and said, ‘Hopefully somebody can make this right, sorry guys,’” Kelce said. “And they came up big for me the very next play.”
That’s when Carson Wentz and Boston Scott hooked up on a miraculous TD pass in the near right corner of the end zone that gave the Eagles the win.
Scott was mobbed by his teammates, and Kelce pulled him aside and screamed, “I owe your ass big-time.”
It was only Kelce’s second penalty this year and fifth in the last two years. It could have been a killer, but Wentz and Scott made sure it became irrelevant.
“Boston did a great job of bailing me out big-time,” Kelce said. “Not only a huge throw by Carson but a tremendous catch to seal the victory.”
Kelce is a three-time Pro Bowler and a three-time all-pro. And of course a Super Bowl champ and a folk hero in this town.
He’s picked up his teammates hundreds of times over the past decade. It was great to see his teammates pick him up this time.