In our live chat, many of you felt the hit on Donovan McNabb, which broke one of his ribs, should have drawn a flag.
I decided to take a look back at the play on my DVR to figure out if it was indeed a late hit.
First, let's set it up.
The Eagles' offense took over on the Panthers' 10 yard line after Akeem Jordan intercepted a Jake Delhomme pass. On first down, McNabb threw in the flat to Brian Westbrook, who gained a yard.
Should the Panthers have been whistled for a late hit on the play that injured Donovan McNabb?
|| 965 (89.1%)
|| 118 (10.9%)
Total votes = 1083
On the next play, Westbrook's feet looked as nimble as they did all game as he danced up the middle to the Panthers' 3 yard line for a gain of 6.
And that's when the cloud formed over what had been a great day for the Eagles. With 7:07 left in the third quarter and the Birds up 31-10, McNabb set up in the shotgun. Three wide receivers -- Kevin Curtis out wide to the left, Jason Avant in the slot and DeSean Jackson to the near side.
Tight end Brent Celek lined up next to right tackle Winston Justice, and Westbrook in the backfield to McNabb's left.
Curtis ran a fade to the back corner of the end zone but was well-covered. Westbrook took off into his route but had a linebacker on him.
Celek covered over the middle, and Jackson and Avant with men on them to the near side.
It seemed like Celek, Avant and Westbrook all got a look from McNabb before he saw the opening to the right side and decided to take off and run. The offensive line did a nice job. Julius Peppers lined up opposite Jason Peters, but he rushed past McNabb. On the right side, Winston Justice and Stacy Andrews double-teamed the defensive end. Nick Cole and Jamaal Jackson kept their men away from McNabb also.
As soon as he saw that McNabb was going to try and run, Avant, one of the team's best blocking wide receivers, turned around, faced cornerback Richard Marshall and pushed him back just enough to give McNabb room. Marshall met him at the goal line and held him up for a brief moment, but McNabb absorbed the hit, spun off and landed in the end zone.
Perhaps for a split second, he was feeling good. That's when big 6-foot-2, 301-pound Damione Lewis landed on him. The Panthers' defensive tackle had been blocked by J. Jackson, but sprinted towards the near corner of the end zone when he saw McNabb running. At one point, it looked like he let up a little but then thought he still had a chance and resumed going full speed.
After Lewis hit him, McNabb first grabbed his lower back, then pulled both knees to his chest and rolled around the grass in pain before Rick Burkholder arrived.
I just watched the replay several times, and Lewis could have been whistled for a late hit. At the same time, I don't think it was a no-brainer call or a dirty play. His momentum was going towards McNabb, and the fact that Marshall held McNabb up at the goal line probably convinced Lewis to not quit on the play.
I'm sure some of you disagree with me so feel free to chime in with your thoughts or vote in the accompanying poll.