Eagles coach Doug Pederson believes the officials made a bad decision when awarding possession of running back Ryan Mathews‘ fumble to the Lions, arguing that center Jason Kelce was touching the ball while out of bounds, which should have ended the play before the Lions recovered the ball.
The NFL has chimed in, and the bottom line is that Pederson may be right. The only problem is that the available replays were unable to prove that Kelce was definitely touching the ball while out of bounds.
“It’s reasonable to think that it touched him but we have to be able to prove it with the video,” NFL senior V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino explains in his weekly officiating video for the media. “So if we can’t see the football actually touching the leg, we just can’t overturn. With this angle, it’s just not definitive.”
No angle other than an overhead vantage point arguably would have shown with clarity whether Kelce was, or wasn’t, touching the ball while out of bounds. Which means that whatever ruling the officials made on the field would have been upheld via replay review.
Which also means that the Lions potentially got lucky. With no way to know for sure, the ruling couldn’t be changed.