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Doug Pederson calls a head-scratcher | Bob Ford

Bob Ford, STAFF COLUMNIST

Updated: Sunday, September 24, 2017, 6:58 PM

Eagles coach Doug Pederson, right, talks to New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo before the team’s faced off on Sunday.

Let’s face it: When an afternoon at the football stadium includes the nationally televised playing and then slow-motion replaying of a man on all fours pretending to be a dog urinating on the field, the bar for stranger occurrences is set pretty high.

Eagles kicker Jake Elliott exults after making a 61-yard field goal to win the game against the Giants 27-24 at Lincoln Financial Field September 24, 2017.
Eagles kicker Jake Elliott gets carried off the field from teammates outside linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (left) and outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks after Elliott kicked the game winning 61-yard field goal to beat the New York Giants on Sunday, September 24, 2017 in Philadelphia.
Eagles' Jake Elliott, center, celebrates his game-winning field goal with his teammates. Philadelphia Eagles win 27-24 over the New York Giants in Philadelphia, PA on September 24, 2017.
Eagles' Jake Elliott reacts after hitting a 61 yard game-winning field goal against the Giants. Philadelphia Eagles win 27-24 over the New York Giants in Philadelphia, PA on September 24, 2017.
Eagles kicker Jake Elliott is carried off the fiedl by teammates Kamu Grugier-Hill (left) and Mychal Kendricks after making a 61-yard field goal to win the game against the Giants 27-24 at Lincoln Financial Field September 24, 2017.
Eagles kicker Jake Elliott kicks the game winning 61-yard field goal with holder Donnie Jones against the New York Giants on Sunday, September 24, 2017 in Philadelphia.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is all smiles as he runs off the field after the Eagles beat the Giants 27-24 on a lasts-second field goal at Lincoln Financial Field September 24, 2017.
Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery catches football with 1-second left on the game clock past New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins (left) and cornerback Eli Apple (bottom) on Sunday, September 24, 2017 in Philadelphia.
Eagles running back Corey Clement scores a fourth-quarter touchdown past New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul on Sunday, September 24, 2017 in Philadelphia.
Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr makes a one-handed grab for a touchdown over Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills in the 4th quarter of the game at Lincoln Financial Field September 24, 2017. Eagles won on a last second, 61-yard field goal by rookie kicker Jake Elliott, 27-24.
Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor is upended by Giants linebacker Keenan Robinson after an 11-yard gain and a 1st down in the 2nd quarter of the game at Lincoln Financial Field September 24, 2017. Eagles won on a last second, 61-yard field goal by rookie kicker Jake Elliott, 27-24.
Eagles outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks (top) and cornerback Jalen Mills stop New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard during the second-quarter on Sunday, September 24, 2017 in Philadelphia.
Eagles' Vinny Curry stops Giants' Orleans Darkwa on 4th down near the end of the 1st half. Philadelphia Eagles play the New York Giants in Philadelphia, PA on September 24, 2017.
New York Giants running back Orleans Darkwa gets stopped by the Eagles defense on a late second-quarter 4 and goal on Sunday, September 24, 2017 in Philadelphia. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox sits on the turf after getting injured in the second-quarter against the New York Giants on Sunday, September 24, 2017 in Philadelphia.
Eagles' Darren Sproles was injured in the 2nd quarter as the Philadelphia Eagles play the New York Giants in Philadelphia, PA on September 24, 2017.
Eagles' Carson Wentz is sacked by the Giants' Devon Kennard in the 2nd quarter. Philadelphia Eagles play the New York Giants in Philadelphia, PA on September 24, 2017.
Eagles' Carson Wentz scrambles for a 1st down against the Giants in the 2nd quarter. Philadelphia Eagles play the New York Giants in Philadelphia, PA on September 24, 2017.
Eagles' LeGarrette Blount scores a 2nd quarter touchdown against the Giants. Philadelphia Eagles play the New York Giants in Philadelphia, PA on September 24, 2017.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz scrambles for a 1st down in the 2nd quarter during the game against the Giants at Lincoln Financial Field September 24, 2017.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie stands with Eagles players during the National Anthem before the Eagles play the New York Giants on Sunday, September 24, 2017 in Philadelphia.
Eagles' fans boo a Giants' fan in the parking lot before the Philadelphia Eagles play the New York Giants in Philadelphia, PA on September 24, 2017.
New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. greets Eagles running back Darrren Sproles during pre-game warmups at Lincoln Financial Field September 24, 2017.
Eagles' fan Gene aka The Face" Olewnik, of Northeast Philly, has painted his face differently for every home game since 1980. Olewnik is seen tailgating before the Philadelphia Eagles play the New York Giants in Philadelphia, PA on September 23, 2017.
Photo Gallery: Eagles 27, Giants 24

Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field was an odd one, everyone would have to agree. That includes the delirious Eagles fans who stuck around after the team blew two leads and allowed 24 fourth-quarter points. Their reward was an improbable 27-24 win over the New York Giants when rookie fill-in kicker Jake Elliott made a 61-yard buzzer-beater of a field goal that nuzzled the inside of the right upright.

Elliott prevented overtime and, given the somewhat ugly nature of the game, that’s a good thing, not just for the Eagles and their season, but for the sport itself. It’s unknown how much more bad officiating, dumb penalties, poor tackling, mounting injuries, and questionable decisions one afternoon can safely hold. Sunday was about the limit.

But when you sort everything out, including Odell Beckham Jr. and his fire hydrant routine, the most puzzling aspect of the game was still Doug Pederson’s decision to attempt a fourth-and-8 from the Giants 43-yard-line, late in the first half with a 7-0 lead.

[Hayes: Seven quick observations on the Eagles win]

As it turned out, after Carson Wentz was sacked on the play and Eli Manning drove the Giants to a first-and-goal at the Eagles 10, the Giants didn’t take advantage of Pederson’s gift, something the coach actually pointed out later, as if that made his decision to not punt somehow all right.

The Giants didn’t score because they can’t run the ball and because they were ridiculously unlucky on that series. They got it to the 2-yard line with a pass to Beckham, who celebrated by rolling on his back and kicking his legs into the air. Then a sideline completion to Sterling Shepard, which was originally ruled a touchdown, was placed at the 1-yard line instead when the replay showed Shepard had missed grazing the pylon on his way out of bounds by an inch or two. On third down, Manning hit Shepard in the corner of the end zone, and he took three steps before crossing out of bounds and falling to the ground, where the ball came loose. If that’s the rule, that’s the rule, but it could have been called a catch, and no one would have said anything.

Then on fourth down, the Giants finally ran the ball up the middle – and went backward, with Orleans Darkwa getting his behind powdered by the entire Eagles defense. Almost every team in the league, including the Eagles, would have gone to a quarterback sneak on third down and inches, but the Giants don’t believe in exposing Manning like that. OK, fine. But the Giants didn’t have a better option. In their three losses, New York has rushed for a total of 146 yards. That’s for three games. The Eagles, in a major change of direction, rushed for 193 on Sunday alone.

So, yeah, the Giants didn’t score before the half — and Pederson skated away a little more cleanly from his fourth-and-8 howler — and they could have used those points at the end of the game, when the Eagles’ defense was gassed and porous and let them back in. That doesn’t mean he skated away totally clean, though, and a decision like that makes you wonder if Pederson will be able to win an important battle of wits when the opposing coach is someone other than Ben McAdoo, who is so sure of himself that he won’t even take a stand on whether he thinks pee-pee pantomimes are in bad taste.

“It was something that I discussed with the guy that’s helping me upstairs with some of the analytics and where we were on the field, what we were doing offensively at the time,” Pederson said. “The defense was playing extremely well. Had an opportunity to keep ourselves on the field at that time, so I elected to go for it at that point. Obviously, we didn’t get it and the defense held. … I stand by my decision.”

Well, that’s great, and it’s very new-millennium of the team to have a guy upstairs with his spreadsheets on the horn with the head coach during the 15 seconds he has to make a decision like that. I’m sure it’s the kind of thing the organization is proud of, very cutting-edge. But, boy, that’s not the way to coach football, and the call was dead wrong.

[Grading the Eagles’ win over the Giants]

It wasn’t fatal, of course. The Eagles survived that and their later failings. They won a game that could have great impact on the outcome of the division this season. They made a hero out of a guy no one had heard of two weeks ago.

There were a lot of positives, but there was also a huge gaffe by a coach who has still not proved himself to his staff, his players, the front office, or the team’s followers. It’s hard to imagine Bill Belichick going for it, given the down, distance, and juncture of the game. It’s even harder to imagine him waiting to be told what to do by the math major upstairs.

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Bob Ford, STAFF COLUMNIST

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