As the Eagles moved toward the end zone for a touchdown that would tie Thursday night’s game at seven in the first quarter, Philadelphia got closer to the goal line when center Jason Kelce pulled running back Kenneth Gainwell forward at the end of the play.
It should have drawn a flag. It didn’t.
Prior to 2006, the rules prohibited pushing a runner. That year, the rule was revised to allow pushing. However, it remained illegal to “pull a runner in any direction at any time.”
As noted by the Football Zebras account on Twitter, a foul hasn’t been called for assisting the running in 30 years. Per a league source, however, the NFL sent this week a video to all teams regarding the “assisting the runner” rule, specifically pointing out that pulling a runner is prohibited.
And the officials still missed it.
Amazon’s rules analyst, former NFL referee Terry McAulay, later explained that a penalty should have been called. (McAulay also mentioned the video, something I didn’t catch during the live broadcast.) As the source who informed us of the recent video described it, the failure to spot the foul reflected “utter incompetence” by the officials.
It happened so early in the game that it’s impossible to say it affected the outcome. But it helped get the Eagles a little closer on a drive that resulted in a 7-7 tie, instead of a 7-3 or 7-0 deficit. And it’s another example of the simple fact that the game officials aren’t as good as they need to be, especially not in an age of ever-spreading legalized wagering.