Sometimes, NFL officials can unintentionally control the pace and timbre of a game with their whistles. Looking at the officiating crews for the NFC Championship Game, it appears as if the Philadelphia Eagles are in good hands. John Hussey has been assigned head referee for Sunday’s matchup.
The 58-year-old began his career in 2002 as a line judge before working his way up to referee in 2015. The Eagles are 6-0 under Hussey’s watchful eye, including a 26-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys earlier this season (October 16, 2022). He also reffed a 31-14 victory by the San Francisco 49ers (their opponents) in late October.
Hussey has served as a line judge for three Eagles postseason contests, most recently in 2011 when Philadelphia dropped a wild-card round game to Green Bay. In addition, he was part of the officiating crews for a 2005 victory over the Vikings in the divisional round, plus a 2009 win over the Vikings in the wild-card round. Take those stats for whatever they are worth.
In regard to controversial calls, there aren’t too many erroneous ones on Hussey’s resume. He caught some heat for calling back a potentially game-tying touchdown by Washington due to an illegal formation penalty in December. And Hussey was questioned in that one for not throwing a flag for pass interference on a crucial fourth-down play late in the fourth quarter. All in all, Hussey’s track record is very good.
Jake Elliott Denies Cheating Accusations
The Eagles were getting some awkward looks around the league last week when their special-teams unit was accused of cheating. A report from Football Zebras alleged they were using foreign objects to better line up field goals and extra points after their holder was videotaped “picking up a small white object from the field” prior to Jake Elliott kicking the ball. The special-teams malpractice was observed in a Week 14 game.
When asked about the cheating accusation in the locker room last week, Elliott vehemently denied any wrongdoing. The veteran kicker told NJ Advance Media that what they were doing was “completely legal” and the Eagles discussed the issue with the NFL.
“We’ve always used something that’s within the rules,” Elliott told Chris Franklin. “It’s just literally to mark the spot. It’s part of the playing surface, like a piece of grass or something like that. Probably 30 teams do it around the league.”
Nick Sirianni Provides Injury Update on Jalen Hurts
Head coach Nick Sirianni started a mini maelstrom after the regular-season finale when he revealed that Jalen Hurts came out of that game a little sore. The comments put everyone into panic mode about his strained right shoulder heading into the playoffs. Then, Hurts went out and torched the New York Giants in the divisional round. The dual-threat quarterback appeared fine, yet Sirianni addressed his injury status once again with reporters on Monday.
“We feel like he’s continuing to get better,” Sirianni told reporters. “I’ll let him answer how he feels, but we felt like he came out good, and then he can answer how sore he is after this game. But played a good game. We got through healthy, not only Jalen but the rest of the team, and yeah, so we’re excited, obviously, about the health of our football team right now.”