Philadelphia Eagles Fans, Take Heart: We Could Be Detroit Lions Fans

Matt GoldbergCorrespondent ISeptember 13, 2010

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 12: Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions waits for a instant replay ruling on an apparent touchdown catch in the final minute against the Chicago Bears during the NFL season opening game at Soldier Field on September 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Lions 19-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Sports Irreverence and More from The Other Tip of the Goldberg


Yes, the Philadelphia Eagles lost their home opener 27-20 to the Green Bay Packers, and they lost more than that.  Fullback Leonard Weaver and center Jamaal Jackson sustained injuries that will probably end their seasons.


Concussions? We had them, too—to quarterback Kevin Kolb and middle linebacker Stewart Bradley. And, there may also be a quarterback controversy brewing after Michael Vick injected some life into an otherwise dormant offense.  Sometimes, it takes even less than a half to create a QB controversy in Eagles Nation.


And certainly, Kevin Kolb’s numbers were terrible:  5-10 for 24 yards, although he smartly hit guard Mike McGlynn for a much needed one-yard gain.  It does not take a Kolb hater to note that he easily could have been 4-10 (without that tipped ball to McGlynn) for 23 yards and at least two picks that were dropped.  He was also sacked twice, and fumbled the ball (luckily, it rolled out of bounds) on the concussion play.


So where’s the good news?  Take solace that we're not Detroit Lions fans, who were looking to win their own season opener, and their first road game since the Eisenhower Administration, but were victimized by either a terrible rule, a terrible ruling, or both.



I defy any reasonable person to tell me that Calvin Johnson’s spectacular 25-yard touchdown catch with 31 seconds left to play (that would have given the Lions a 20-19 lead, and probable win) was not exactly that: a great 25-yard game-inning touchdown catch.


Please have a look:


Now, I am not a Lions fan, or a Bears hater, but I have decent eyesight.  Johnson leaped over the defender, controlled the ball without juggling it with both hands, kept it in his control for a longer duration than most Hollywood marriages, controlled it for another second or two with one hand, and then eventually let the ball roll out of his hand about 10 seconds after scoring the touchdown.


Not so fast, Lions fans, and other non-delusional people.  As referee Gene Stetafore (or was that umpire Jim Joyce coming back to stick it once more to Detroit fans) explained, “The ruling is that in order for the catch to be completed he has got to maintain possession of the ball throughout the entire process of the catch.”


Oh that explains it, and I find myself still in the process of trying to understand this rule.

But that’s okay—it’s apparently a very long process of understanding that is much too complex for my own bucket list.  I will attain nirvana first, but maybe I should just accept this rule, and encourage all sports to adopt such logic. Consider these scenarios:


First baseman Ryan Howard catches an inning-ending foul ball, and before heading to the dugout, flips the ball to a little cutie in the front row.  Sorry, no catch for you—he was still in the process of catching the ball.


A puck crosses the red line behind Flyers goalie Michael Leighton, who smartly knocks it across the other side of the line.  No goal:  The puck was still in the process of deciding whether it wanted to cross the line.


And why restrict this unique logic to sports?  A man robs a bank and is stopped by cops while fleeing outside the door.  The would-be thief channels his inner Goodell and says that he was still in the process of completing the transaction which included: returning the money, untying all the tellers, and writing a sincere note of apology.



So, take heart, Eagles fans.  We lost and we did not look particularly good in doing so, but at least we did not get screwed by a horrible rule and a bad application of that horrible rule


Oh, did I mention that the Cowboys lost?  It was to Donovan McNabb and the Washington Redskins (that still sounds weird, by the way) but they lost the game on a play where they appeared to have score the game-winning touchdown as time expired.


(And yes, the officials got this one right:  The Cowboys right tackle choked and held the Redskins defensive end for even longer than Johnson maintained possession of the ball on that touchdown catch.)