The Eagles have been penalized eight times in their two playoff wins this year and they’d like to keep that number from growing too much when they take on the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
Part of their attempt to do that has involved watching video of the penalties called by the members of this year’s officiating crew. Referee Gene Steratore will head up the group, which does not work together during the regular season.
“We kind of use that to understand what they like to call, know what they are looking for, and pretty much just help us play a cleaner game so we know what to expect from them and they know what to expect from us,” Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham said, via Sal Paolantonio and Tim McManus of ESPN.com.
Paolantonio and McManus note that Steratore’s crew was fifth-highest in pass interference, defensive holding and illegal contact calls and that four of the other six officials were on crews that ranked in the top half of the league in those calls. Their colleague Bill Barnwell points out that two of the three officials assigned to watch for pass interference — side judge Scott Edwards, field judge Tom Hill and back judge Perry Paganelli — were on crews that threw fewer flags for those infractions than the league average.
Barnwell also points out that there has not been an illegal contact penalty in the Super Bowl since 2005, which was the last time the Patriots and Eagles met in the game. Patriots linebacker Roman Phifer was the guilty party and the flag wiped out an Asante Samuel interception, although the damage was minimal as Rodney Harrison intercepted Donovan McNabb one play later.