SEATTLE — It would have been the longest touchdown of Zach Ertz’s career and the longest by an Eagles tight end in six years, since Brent Celek’s 65-yarder from Michael Vick in that unforgettable comeback win over the Giants in 2010.
More importantly, it would have given the Eagles a 14-13 lead over the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field Sunday with about six minutes left in the first half.
It would have given them a fighting chance against one of the best teams in football in their own stadium.
“Once I spun the ball, I looked back, (Jason) Kelce kind of told me that it got called back,” Ertz said. “You could see from afar that a flag was on the field.”
Nelson Agholor’s penalty for illegal formation negated Ertz’s TD and was really the turning point in what became a 26-15 Seahawks win.
As soon as the touchdown was called back, you could just see the life get sucked out of the Eagles.
Instead of taking a 14-13 lead, they were forced to punt. Before long, the game turned into a blowout, with the Seahawks taking a 19-point lead before settling for the 11-point win.
Agholor’s drop later in the second quarter may have been more glaring. But the penalty was a real turning point.
“Obviously, that was a big play and we can't have that mistake, especially on the road,” safety Rodney McLeod said. “We can't shoot ourselves in the foot and take away a big play like that.”
From the point of that penalty to the point the Seahawks took their 26-9 lead — a span of 22 minutes and 20 seconds — the Seahawks outgained the Eagles 208-34.
Talk about a momentum shift.
“Yeah, its definitely a momentum changer,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “A big play like that puts you right back in the football game. It’s tough to overcome sometimes.”
Malcolm Jenkins was a little more blunt about it.
“I mean, it's frustrating,” he said. “You would think you can get lined up. That's the basics of football. When you give up plays like that on a small little thing, you hurt yourself.
“Obviously, you need those points in a tough game where you're kind of battling, but we didn't come up with it and got what we deserved.”
It’s not the first time Agholor has cost Ertz a touchdown with a penalty. It happened last year in Washington.
“I’m not mad at him at all,” Ertz said. “It’s not my job to critique how he plays. My job is to be the best tight end I can possibly be, to be the best teammate I can be.
“He’s trying his best, that’s all you can really ask. I don’t think he went out before that play and said, ‘I’m going to take a touchdown away.’
“I was a little frustrated. Unfortunately, I’ve had multiple touchdowns called back the past two years. Just little mistakes, myself included, killing us right now.
“That was a big play in the game, obviously. Especially against that team in this stadium, if you blow little stuff like that it’s extremely hard to win.
“It’s just tough to score against them, period. When you have a score and you get it called back. Against that team it’s really hard to score. We didn’t capitalize again until the two-minute drill and the game was kind of out of reach.
“So, it’s a tough loss, man. I’m not going to say that lost the game, because there were so many other plays, but it was a big part of the game.”