Brandon Graham ‘sick' over costly penalty in Eagles' 1st loss


The Eagles were going to get the ball back with a chance to erase an ugly performance and leave Lincoln Financial Field with another win to keep their perfect record intact.

But then a costly penalty basically ended the game.

“That’s on me,” Brandon Graham said.

With less than 2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke scrambled around on third down before eventually dropping to a knee. He was touched down by Haason Reddick, who was credited with the sack, but Graham couldn’t pull up and bowled Heinicke over.

Graham was flagged for unnecessary roughness, a call that pretty much ended the game. The Commanders scored a meaningless touchdown late and won 32-21 to drop the Eagles to 8-1 on the season.

“I’m just more sick that I let the team down in the moment,” Graham said.

Graham, 34, took full ownership of the mistake but the call will be fodder for sports talk radio over the next week. Graham said he didn’t hear a whistle and was just hustling to touch the QB down, but repeatedly raised his hand to take the blame.

That doesn’t mean that the Eagles necessarily agreed with the call.

“BG is a tough, hard, rugged player. He’s always going 1,000 miles per hour to the ball,” linebacker Kyzir White said. “I don’t know what you expect him to do when [Heinicke is] on the ground, nobody touched him. He looks like he’s about to get up. It’s like he was trying to bait our guys into that. Bad call in my opinion, but that’s why I’m not a ref.”

After the game, referee Alex Kemp had a chance to explain the call to pool reporter Zach Berman of The Athletic.

“That was my call,” Kemp said. “I had ruled the quarterback had clearly given himself up. Therefore, he is down and a defenseless player. The contact by Philadelphia No. 55 was not only late but also to the head and neck area.”

Of course, this was just one play in what was ultimately a very winnable game for the Eagles. And it’s really unfair to say this one call wrecked the game for them because there were plenty of reasons why the Eagles lost.

They turned the ball over three times. They couldn’t get off the field on third downs. Heck, there was a no-call on a facemask to Dallas Goedert that really hurt them too.

Graham’s teammates appreciated that he raised his hand on that penalty, but all of them were quick to point out this loss definitely wasn’t on him.

“BG does what BG does and hustles hard and plays hard,” Darius Slay said. “I am with him. S— happens. He is not perfect. S— happens. I had a penalty. I gave them a first down. He is alright. We are good.”

It’s just that the Graham penalty came last.

“We can’t put the game in the refs’ hands,” Graham said.

Had the penalty not happened, the Commanders would have been facing a 4th-and-19 from their own 38-yard line. The Eagles would have used their third and final timeout to force a punt with 1:38 left on the clock and down 26-21.

There’s obviously no guarantee the Eagles would have driven down the field to win the game. But now we’ll never know.

As for Graham, he’s just looking forward to making up for the mistake next week.

“Penalties are going to happen, stuff is going to happen,” Graham said. “It is what it is. I know the next time around, I know in that moment, I’m going to make sure that if I see him going down, ‘Hey, he declared himself down, that’s what it is.’ I ain’t gotta touch him.”

Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast

Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube

Contact Us