Fair or unfair, Brandon Graham was the recipient of a backbreaking penalty that cemented the end of the Eagles’ undefeated run.
After beginning the season 8-0, the Eagles sustained their first loss of the season Monday with a 32-21 primetime loss to the Washington Commanders.
With the Eagles down five with under two minutes to play, Philadelphia was looking for a stop on 3rd and 7 with the ball just shy of midfield. Taylor Heinicke was flushed out of the pocket, and with all his receivers covered, fell to the ground in the backfield to keep the clock running.
Philly’s defense had converged on him at that point, and that included Graham, who made contact with Heinicke after he hit the ground. The referees flagged Graham for unnecessary roughness, giving the Commanders a fresh set of downs. The Eagles had just one timeout left, so the penalty sealed the loss for them.
It was a controversial call – Eagles Twitter was irate about it– but Graham took ownership of it in his weekly appearance on “Angelo Cataldi and the Morning Team.”
“You know what, man I’m just going to own that one. I messed up getting to the quarterback in that moment. Just trying to touch him down. If I could do it all over again, of course, I wouldn’t even mess with him," Graham said Tuesday morning. “But I know that it’s part of the game, at the end of the day I know it wasn’t just that play alone, but I hate to be the cause of us not getting the ball back to get at least one more chance to try to go out and win it.”
The veteran edge rusher said he wasn’t trying to hurt Heinicke. He also didn’t sound like he was expecting to get flagged in the moment.
“If I would’ve hit him helmet-to-helmet, then yeah I would’ve expected the flag. With me touching him, I know it probably was – Heinicke did a good job of wailing back, but either way, I’m just going to own that. That was all me.
"Like I said, there was a lot that happened in that game, but I hate to not be able to give us a chance with the ball one last time to help us try to get that W.”