Good catch by the consistently excellent Les Bowen in this morning's papers in re: a baffling first-quarter play from Sunday. In describing Andy Reid's struggles with the challenge flag this year, Les explains:
Of more import was an unchallenged mistake earlier in the game. Late in the first quarter, leading 14-0, the Eagles had first down at the Redskins' 42. Correll Buckhalter ran right for 5 yards, and Washington was called for having 12 men on the field. The Eagles accepted the penalty and should have then gotten a first-and-5 at the 37. Instead, they were given first-and-10 at the 37. They gained 5 yards on two runs, then threw an incomplete pass, before David Akers came on for a 50-yard field-goal attempt that he missed.
But had it been correctly marked first-and-5, the Eagles would have gotten the first down and had a chance to move closer for the field goal, or even score another touchdown. It's kind of amazing that nobody on the officiating crew noticed this, but it's even more amazing that Eagles players and coaches didn't notice, or that somebody from the Eagles sitting upstairs didn't call down to the field to alert Reid.
My wife asked me to explain what was going on on said play, as there was also a bit of confusion on the scoreboard (which had it correct) versus the chains on the field (which had it incorrectly marked first-and-ten). I stammered something about the scoreboard being correct, but then I saw the chains and could only offer up a "Yeah, I don't actually know what the story is on that."
(As you might imagine, my wife was suitably unimpressed by this explanation.)
File under: "Further proof that even after watching football fairly closely for twenty-some-odd years, I still don't actually understand all the rules." And people wonder why it's hard to market this game globally! Can you imagine explaining penalties to a bunch of guys that don't speak the same language (like you have to do in soccer all the time)? Not gonna happen.
Of course, it would be disingenuous to omit comment on the main thrust of Bowen's piece, which was that Donovan McNabb needs to show a bit more ownership/ leadership for the Birds. It seems like Les and Dunavin should have e-mailed each other this morning before they both pushed publish, because that's pretty much exactly what Dunavin wrote on his blog this morning.
So. I guess we're all in agreement then.