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November 30, 2016

Doug Pederson (eventually) recognizes poor decision to use challenge vs. Packers

As we noted in our post-game "10 awards," on a first down play at the Philadelphia Eagles' 39-yard line in the third quarter, the Green Bay Packers gained two yards on a pass to tight end Jared Cook that should have been ruled an incomplete pass. 

While it was surely annoying from the Eagles' perspective that the officials got the call wrong, it's not a situation you would typically challenge, especially when the Eagles already used (and lost) their first challenge. Whether the missed call was reversed or not, the Eagles were going to be out of challenges either way, so the reward of two stinking yards was not at all worth using your final challenge of the game.

Still, Pederson challenged it, and while he won the challenge, the Packers drove for a touchdown anyway. After the game, Pederson defended his decision.

“Well, the thought process there was to where they were on the field," Pederson explained. "Yeah, it might have been only a two-yard gain, but you take into consideration second-and-eight, second-and-10. Backs them up two yards. You still want to play the field position game, whether they end up punting it or going for it on fourth down.

"If you can stop them, get them off the field, just an opportunity to keep them in a second-and-long situation knowing, yeah, that obviously it was an incomplete pass, knowing you were going to be out of challenges. Just needed something to keep them really at a little bit longer yardage at that time and try to help our defense.”

On Wednesday, Pederson changed his mind, acknowledging that it was a play that was not worth challenging.

"That second one in the [Green Bay] game, I probably would have kept [the challenge]," Pederson said. "It was a two-yard gain and [I could’ve] kept it at second-and-8. The thing was, too, with where [the Packers] were on the field, at that point [I was thinking], ‘Hey, let's go second-and-10 over second-and-8, and try to keep them back a little bit. Two more yards, this and that, I was trying to play all that in my head at the same time.

"But that would be a challenge that I would [take back]. That's part of going back to the process of self-evaluation in making those decisions. I would probably hang on to that and keep it for a situation that didn't [end up] showing up in the game."

The decision ultimately didn't affect the outcome as the Eagles did not need their final challenge later in the game. Credit Pederson for eventually recognizing the error, however, it is alarming that he would deem that a reasonable time to use his final challenge in the heat of the game.

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