Upon further review, Doug Pederson wouldn’t have thrown the challenge flag.
Pederson has come under fire the last couple days for his decision to challenge a seemingly innocuous two-yard gain on a first down in the third quarter of the Eagles’ nationally televised loss to the Packers Monday night at the Linc.
With 2:09 left in the third quarter and the Packers leading 17-13 and facing a 1st-and-10 at the Eagles’ 39-yard line, Aaron Rodgers threw a short pass to tight end Jared Cook, who clearly dropped the ball near the right sideline while covered by cornerback Jalen Mills.
Despite what appeared to be a clear drop, the play was ruled a completed pass, giving the Packers a 2nd-and-8 at the 37.
Pederson immediately threw the challenge flag, and after a short review, the ruling was changed to an incomplete pass.
So the Eagles won the challenge but lost the ability to challenge any more plays.
Because Pederson had already unsuccesfully challenged a play in the second quarter — whether a Packers punt should have been spotted at the Eagles’ 1-yard line or been ruled a touchback — the successful second challenge left Pederson without any additional challenges.
A team gets a third challenge only if its first two are successful.
So Pederson got the 2nd-and-10 he wanted but he faced the final 17 minutes of a one-possession game that the Eagles had to win with no challenges.
As it was, the Packers got the first down two plays later and took a 24-13 lead early in the fourth quarter on Aaron Ripkowski’s one-yard touchdown run. They went on to win, 27-13.
The challenge appeared to make little sense, since Pederson was giving up the ability to challenge a big play in exchange for two yards.
And Wednesday, two days after the Eagles lost for the sixth time in their last eight games, Pederson finally admitted he made a mistake.
“We do have a process with the coaches upstairs and the information we’re seeing and the camera angles and different things like that to make those choices,” he said.
“That second one, I probably would have kept it. It was a two-yard gain — 2nd-and-8.”
So why challenge it in the first place? Pederson tried to explain his thought process.
“The thing was, where we were on the field, at that point, just (thinking), ‘Hey, let’s go 2nd-and-10 over 2nd-and-8, let’s try to keep them back just a little bit, two more yards, this and that.
“I was trying to play all that in my head at the same time. But that would be a challenge that I would probably hang onto.”