I’ve received quite a few e-mails from readers regarding that little jawing match between Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver and 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks near the end of the first half when the Eagles were trying to line up and spike the ball to stop the clock.
Most people wanted to know what would have happened if Donovan McNabb had just taken the snap and spiked the ball rather than wait for Weaver to line up.
The general assumption of most of the e-mailers was that both teams would have been called for offsetting penalties – Weaver for a false start and Brooks for being offsides – the clock would have stopped and they would have replayed the down, leaving the Eagles with enough time to take one more shot at the end zone before having to settle for a David Akers field goal.
Some of you, who really, really don’t like McNabb to the point that you’re convinced he was on a grassy knoll in Dallas in November of ’63 when JFK was killed, put the blame on him rather than Weaver and suggested that both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady would have been smart enough to have run the play.
Well, guess what, boys and girls? Manning and Brady would have been wrong.
I checked with Mike Pereira, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, this morning to find out what would have happened if the Eagles had run the play with Weaver and Brooks still jawing. His answer:
"If the ball would have been snapped, we would have penalized the Eagles for a false start since all offensive players did not get set before the snap. That would have taken precedent over the defense being offside. There would not have been a play and there would be a 10-second run-off."
That last sentence is very important, because there were only 11 seconds left in the half when McNabb lined up to take the snap from center Jamaal Jackson. By the time he would’ve spiked the ball, it would’ve been down to 10. Which means the penalty and the runoff would have ended the half and the Eagles wouldn’t even have come away with a field goal.