One storyline that’s gone mostly uncovered (I’m guilty, too) is the very real possibility that the Eagles had a first down inside the 1 on their final scoring drive yesterday.
LeSean McCoy was obviously stopped on third down, forcing the Birds to kick a field goal. But did Chris Polk get a first down before that?
On 2nd and 4 from the 5, Polk rushed up the middle and was stopped inside the 1. It seemed like the Eagles had to get into the end zone, but they were in the rare situation of being able to get a first down just in front of the goal line. As you can see in the replay, Polk clearly got past the first down marker at the upper part of the screen:
But here’s the thing: That marker wasn’t accurate. The Eagles got their previous first down juuuuuust outside the 10. Here’s the snap:
Obviously, to get another first down Polk would’ve needed to get the ball well inside the 1. Which he did. How far inside? It’s debatable. But Chip was probably right not to challenge the play. As he explained on the WIP Morning Show today, the odds weren’t in his favor:
“I don’t think the league rate at overturning spots, in terms of where his knee was down—most of the time the err, I think percentage wise in the league, if you study the percentage of it there you err on the previous call on the field because it’s very difficult to tell on the spot unless it’s kind of a clear-cut open field kind of thing.”
He’s right. The spot – which is the only thing you can challenge on this play – was seemingly accurate. Generous? Probably not. But close enough that the officials weren’t going to move it.
We of course want the Eagles to do everything in their power to get a first down (and touchdown) on the drive, and it is slightly maddening that they didn’t take a chance challenging the play, but not doing was almost certainly the right call.
The Eagles would’ve burnt a timeout probably unnecessarily (they wound up using one for an injury on the ensuing Cardinals drive), and that would’ve been a whole other, Andy Reid-esque issue had the clock run out on them on their final drive.
Unfortunately, the marker at the far end of the field was in the wrong spot, which made it seem, on TV, as though Polk had a first down, which he probably didn’t.