Detroit — Fans watching the Lions beat the Philadelphia Eagles, either from home or at Ford Field, were likely confused by a moment at the end of the first half because the officials, as well as the broadcast crew, failed to explain what was happening.
With 1:22 remaining in the second quarter, and the Eagles facing a 2nd-and-25 from their own 35-yard line, quarterback Carson Wentz rolled out to his right and found receiver Jordan Matthews for a 27-yard completion down the right sideline.
As Matthews turned upfield, the ball was stripped by Lions cornerback Quandre Diggs, flying out of bounds. It was close enough that there would clearly be a review, but there was also a flag on the field.
After a quick conference, referee Pete Morelli called the Eagles for an ineligible man downfield, negating the potential reception. The infraction was called against No. 98, which made no sense, since No. 98 on the Eagles is defensive player Connor Barwin, who naturally wasn’t on the field at the time.
But, without warning, the officials on the sidelines began moving the first down markers and Morelli announced the play was under review. What? Why?
Well, you’re not going to believe the reason.
Apparently, in a momentary lapse, one of the officials forgot which team was on offense and threw the flag on Lions defensive end Devin Taylor, No. 98.
“Yes, the ineligible receiver that they called downfield was Devin Taylor,” coach Jim Caldwell said after the game. “Then he realized that he called it on Devin and said that’s why they picked the flag up.”
Replays confirm the Eagles did not have an ineligible receiver downfield. The only blocker who got beyond the line of scrimmage, right guard Brandon Brooks (No. 79, in case you were wondering), was within the legal one-yard zone when Wentz released the pass.
By picking up the flag, the reception went to review, where it was determined Matthews had established possession prior to the fumble. That gave the Eagles a fresh set of downs at the Lions 38-yard line and they were able to eventually net a field goal before the end of the half, cutting the Lions’ lead to 21-10.
Interestingly enough, Morelli was the official during Detroit’s playoff loss to Dallas two years ago, when the crew controversially picked up the defensive pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter.
Morelli’s crew also picked up a second flag in this game, a 15-yard unsportsmanlike infraction for called against Lions linebacker Kyle Van Noy on an extra point.