Eagles’ Brandon Graham Responds to Controversial, Game-Sealing Penalty

Brandon Graham, Carson Wentz

Getty Eagles Pro Bowler Brandon Graham committed a costly roughing penalty late against the Washington Commanders.

The Philadelphia Eagles are 8-1 after taking a hard-luck loss on Monday Night Football to end their run at a perfect season. It was sloppy. It was uncharacteristic. It was below their so-called standard. And it was a game filled with questionable calls from the zebras.

The one miscue that stung hardest happened in the final 1:45 when Brandon Graham was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty. The 15-yard infraction cost them a first down after Haason Reddick had dropped Taylor Heinicke for a sack on 3rd-and-7. The Eagles would have gotten the ball back with a chance to win it. Not after Graham’s brain freeze.

“For me, I was going to make up for it by what I do next week, by how I respond,” Graham told reporters. “So, I’m going to take that one on the chin, of course we’re all gonna flush it and move on. But I’m definitely gonna take that one and next time make sure I don’t let the team down in a situation like that again.”

The situation was a complicated one. Graham came sliding in behind Reddick to make sure Heinicke was down on the ground and put just enough body weight on the Commanders quarterback to slightly jar his head into the turf. The refs are going to call that every time even if the contact was minimal due to the league’s well-stated emphasis on concussions.

Graham refused to blame the refs or question the legitimacy of the call. It should be noted that Heinicke jumped right up after the extra nudge. He was unharmed.

“We can’t put the game in the ref’s hands,” Graham said. “In that position I just gotta know, if he go down it’s okay. For me, I was just hustling to the play, just trying to make sure he was down and just trying to get off the field. I was just trying to touch him, touch him down, because it just looked like he was going to get up, but you just never know. But that’s on me. I’m going to own that one.”

Nick Sirianni Explains Why Eagles Lost to Commanders

The Eagles got the ball back with 5 seconds showing in the fourth quarter and tried to execute a miracle lateral play. It didn’t work. Casey Toohill took a DeVonta Smith fumble into the end zone to make it 32-21.

That touchdown officially ended the bid for an undefeated season. After the game, head coach Nick Sirianni attempted to put everything in perspective.

“We played like crap,” Sirianni told reporters. “We didn’t do a good enough job and it feels like those things go against you, those plays, those scenarios that happen. When you play like that, they get magnified, right? Whether it was the right call or the wrong call. We made our own luck today and it was bad.”

The refs didn’t do the Eagles any favors, especially a blown facemask call on a Dallas Goedert fumble where he was poked in the eye. When Sirianni was specifically asked about Graham’s game-sealing penalty, he defended the Super Bowl champion and team captain. Not Graham’s fault. Or the ref’s fault.

“That’s not what lost us the football game,” Sirianni said. “I’d have to watch it on tape again. I saw it live and how it kind of looked on the field, they [the refs] got a tough job and I’ll look at it, but that’s not at all what lost us the football game.”

So, what did lose the Eagles the football game? Turnovers and time of possession.

“Shoot, that’s pretty simple: the 3 turnovers lost us the game, the time of possession loses you the game,” Sirianni said. “We lost it together: offense, defense, special teams, coaching. We lost it together, that’s what lost us the game.”

Washington had the ball for 40:24, compared to 19:36 for Philadelphia. And the Eagles turned it over 4 times, compared to 2 for the Commanders. (Sirianni wasn’t counting the last one since it came on a Hail Mary lateral).

Eagles Ready to Flush It: ‘Remember This Feeling’

The Eagles can’t sit and stew about a disappointing loss to an inferior divisional opponent. Every game counts the same in the NFL. They have what amounts to a must-win road matchup next week against the Indianapolis Colts, a team that is still fighting for their own playoff lives after firing Frank Reich, and a team featuring All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor.

“We wanna learn from it [the Washington loss] and we want to make sure we remember this feeling,” Graham said. “Because the only way we gonna lose is if we beat ourselves. Washington came out ready to play. And I’m going to give all the credit to them. I’m ready to see how we bounce back from this, I’m already ready for us to get to work.”

Remember, the Eagles are now only one game ahead of the New York Giants (7-2) in the NFC East. Graham’s late hit could come back to bite them.

“I’m more sick that I let the team down in the moment. I’m gonna get over that,” Graham said. “But credit to Washington, though. They came out and played hard. Divisional game. Every week is a new week so them guys came back ready to play and they got the dub.”

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