Thanks to three Michael Vick completions and a scramble, it didn’t take long before they marched down to the Chargers’ 14-yard-line with a 1st-and-10.
But that’s where the drive stalled. With 2:09 on the clock, Vick took the snap and looked for Brent Celek, but got crushed on the play by Jarius Wynn as he released the ball. He was slow to get up, and the Eagles were charged with an injury timeout.
“The referee said I had to come off,” Vick said. “I was back up and standing, ready to play. The referee told me to come out.”
Asked if he was hurt, Vick said: “I won’t say I wasn’t hurt. I wasn’t hurt hurt. If I am standing up, I’m not hurt. I’m ready to go. But [the referee] said I had to come out for a play. I think that was unfortunate for my team, but [the referees] are doing their jobs, and I won’t try to negate any decision they try to make.”
When asked if he had the option to call timeout there and get Vick back in the game without missing a snap, Chip Kelly said: “No.”
But that’s not really true.
The NFL rulebook states the following:
When an injury timeout is called [prior to the 2-minute warning of either half], the injured player must leave the game for the completion of one down. The player will be permitted to remain in the game if:
a.) Either team calls a charged timeout.
b.) The injury is the result of a foul by an opponent.
c.) The period ends or the 2-minute warning occurs before the next snap.
At the time, the Eagles had three timeouts left. They could have called one and gotten Vick back in the game. Instead, Vick went to the sideline, and Nick Foles came in, throwing incomplete to DeSean Jackson in the end zone.
One other note on that final drive: With 2:09 on the clock, the Eagles snapped the ball instead of waiting for the two-minute warning.
It was 1st-and-10 from the Chargers’ 14. At that point, barring a turnover, they were at worst set up for a 31-yard field goal that would have tied the game. But instead of limiting the amount of time the Chargers would have on their ensuing possession, the Eagles snapped the ball early.
Asked about potentially taking some more time off the clock, Kelly said: “We were trying to score. We were trying to score a touchdown. We weren’t trying to kick a field goal. We were trying to score a touchdown, so hoping we could get to a situation where we made it a four-point game.”
Of course, with three timeouts left and 14 yards to go, using clock and scoring a touchdown were not mutually exclusive.
One possible explanation is that Kelly was thinking one possession ahead and wanted to maximize the time remaining in the event that the Chargers scored quickly and the Eagles’ offense got the ball back. We’ll ask him about that tomorrow.
At any rate, Eagles offensive players viewed not scoring a touchdown on the final drive as a missed opportunity. The Chargers got the ball back with 1:51 left, drove to the Eagles’ 28 and won the game on a 46-yard field goal.