Malcolm Jenkins: Replay official should 'stay off the bottle'

The Dallas Cowboys’ win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday was an overtime thriller filled with a flurry of offense in the game’s final minutes.

It also had its fair share of controversy.

Officials made a bizarre offensive pass interference call that wiped a late 75-yard Eagles touchdown off the board before Philadelphia bailed them out by scoring on the drive. That was in the fourth quarter.

Game-changing call before the first snap

The game didn’t even have its first snap before bickering over the officials ensued. Jourdan Lewis took the opening kickoff for the Cowboys and fumbled it when he met a gang of Eagles defenders near the Dallas 17-yard line.

Eagles linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill left a pile of players with the football in an apparent huge play for Philadelphia to start the game.

But officials ruled that Lewis was down by contact, prompting an Eagles challenge.

Kamu Grugier-Hill was not pleased when officials ruled that he didn’t recover an early Cowboys fumble. (AP)
Kamu Grugier-Hill was not pleased when officials ruled that he didn’t recover an early Cowboys fumble. (AP)

Officials: No clear recovery

Replay showed a clear fumble and a pile of Eagles defenders swarming the ball, but didn’t provide clear evidence of who recovered it. Replay officials acknowledged that Lewis was down by contact, but declined to reward possession to the Eagles because they couldn’t determine who recovered the ball.

This prompted a blunt response from Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins after the game.

Jenkins: ‘Stay off the bottle’

“That was a pretty terrible call,” Jenkins told reporters. “They reviewed it and the explanation I got was that it wasn’t a clear recovery, although Kamu had the ball in his hand and there was only Eagles defenders on the ball in replay.

“So whoever’s watching that in New York should stay off the bottle.”

On-field officials, replay rules to blame

A fumble recovery would have set the Eagles up in the red zone to start the game. With the Eagles being shut out in the first half of a game they lost in overtime, that was obviously a huge call.

Common sense dictates that the ball belonged to the Eagles. But officials screwed up on the field by ruling Lewis down. At that point, the outcome of the play was left to the stringent rules of replay that sometimes don’t allow common sense to prevail. This was one of those cases.

There was clearly a pile of Eagles defenders on the ball. An Eagles player walked away with the ball. But Lewis was pile-adjacent while the ball was loose and appeared to have his arm reaching toward the ball, which is the only explanation for what was going on in the replay official’s head for determining that there was not a clear recovery.

Grugier-Hill was upset too

Grugier-Hill concurred.

“They just said that the video didn’t show me getting up actually with the ball, but it was clear I had the ball, so I don’t understand, “Grugier-Hill said. “It was all green jerseys. It was all green jerseys.”

Nobody could reasonably watch that replay and not believe that the Eagles came away with the ball. So the Cowboys caught a huge break that may have determined the outcome of the game.

Jenkins’s outrage at the replay official who made the decision may be misplaced. It’s understandable to see how that official was hamstrung by the rules of replay.

But there’s no denying that Jenkins’ outrage was righteous.

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