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Officials explain Eagles’ controversial fumble return touchdown vs. Cowboys

The Eagles scored a touchdown off a scoop-and-score Sunday night against the Cowboys, and some people were not happy with it.

There were a few questionable moments in the play that led to a strong reaction from fans on Twitter. The first is a question of whether the Eagles were offside, and the second is whether the Eagles were down by contact before returning the fumble for a touchdown.

The play happened with 5:18 remaining in the fourth quarter. It was a critical moment in the game as the Cowboys were driving down the field and trailing 15-9. A touchdown and an extra point would give the Cowboys a lead. Instead, Ben DiNucci was sacked, fumbled the ball and the Eagles scored on a 53-yard fumble recovery.

MORE: Full highlights from Eagles’ win vs. Cowboys

Before the rest of the play unfolded, many on social media were upset the play began at all because they felt an Eagles player jumped offside. It can appear that way in real time, but when NBC showed the slow-mo of the snap, it was pretty clear that they never crossed that line before the ball was snapped.

It was close, but it wasn’t offside.

(NBC / NFL)

The main issue, however, is whether the Eagles had possession of the fumble before returning it for a touchdown.

Vinny Curry could be seen attempting to recover the fumble, and if he maintained possession of the ball then he would certainly be down by contact. NBC’s broadcast booth sure suggested this was the case, and many on Twitter felt the same way.

Despite the frustration, the explanation for the play is pretty clear: Curry never had possession.

The replay angles by NBC clearly showed Curry struggling to get possession of the football. He had the ball knocked out of his hands the moment it looked like he was about to get possession, and then it was up for grabs in the open field. If anything, officials deserve credit for not blowing the play dead early, as we’ve seen them do so many times before.

NFL officials confirmed this play was reviewed correctly after the game.

It was a strange play overall, but ultimately the officials made the right call.

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