LANDOVER, Md. — Somehow, even with their three turnovers, facing an early 13-0 deficit and playing behind a quarterback who was not nearly at his best, the Redskins were still one fourth quarter drive away from pulling out a win against the Eagles on Sunday.
But their final chance at beating Philadelphia in Week 1 ended after a Kirk Cousins sack turned into a Kirk Cousins fumble, which turned into an Eagles touchdown.
And then, that whole sequence turned into a debate: Was it really a fumble, or an incomplete forward pass?
Don’t know how you call this a fumble but alright pic.twitter.com/JxTD6RPPxX— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) September 10, 2017
The call on the field was that Cousins did indeed lose control of the ball, as opposed to it being an attempted throw that was knocked away. Officials reviewed the play after Fletcher Cox returned it for a score, and while many assumed that they'd overturn the initial decision, referee Brad Allen stuck with the ruling.
Afterward, he explained why to the Washington Post's Master Tesfatsion.
"Real time, I have lack of control in the hand," Allen said when asked what he saw live. "That means empty hand going forward."
If you look at the video above, at first glance, it looks very clearly like a Cousins pass that was batted down by Brandon Graham. But a close watching of it shows that, perhaps, the QB lost possession of the ball while winding up and came forward with the "empty hand" that Allen referred to, which means it was in fact a turnover.
Regardless of what you see, because the replay doesn't fully demonstrate it wasn't a fumble, Allen couldn't reverse it.
"There was nothing conclusive that would overturn the ruling on the field," he said. "All the views we had were inconclusive, so we have to stay with the ruling on the field... I just have to go with my gut. And my gut said fumble."
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"We'd like to think that we had a chance there to get the ball back, but I always expect when the play is allowed to be reviewed and they can go over it again that they're going to make the right call and you saw their decision," Cousins said in his presser. "Tough one but there are so many other plays in the game that lead to that moment that I really think are more important and more telling of why it didn't go our way at the end."
It was an incredibly close call, and one that was probably decided the moment the refs originally ruled it an Eagles score instead of a Redskins incompletion thanks to the inconclusive replays. But as Cousins correctly pointed out, Washington could've done plenty of other things before the fatal fumble that would've simply kept them out of that situation in the first place.