Eagles coach: Falcons' Keanu Neal should've been flagged for hit on Jordan Matthews

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday that he's received word from the league office that the hit by Atlanta Falcons safety Keanu Neal on receiver Jordan Matthewson Sunday should have been a penalty.

Facing a third-and-12 at the Atlanta 36, rookie quarterback Carson Wentz fired a pass over the middle to Matthews. Neal appeared to launch helmet-first and hit Matthews in the face mask as the ball tumbled to the turf, but the referees did not throw a flag. Matthews, sporting a bloody lip, told reporters after the game that the hit bent his face mask and visor, and he had to have both replaced.

The on-field officials deemed that the majority of the contact was to the chest area with the side of the helmet, and therefore the contact between the defender's helmet and Matthews to be incidental in the course of a conventional tackle. Unnecessary roughness rules do not prohibit "incidental contact by the mask or helmet in the course of a conventional tackle or block on an opponent."

The play was reviewed this week by senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino and his staff, which concluded that a penalty should have been called.

Neal could very well face a fine as a result.

"Sometimes they stick so much to the, 'OK, but we called it on the field; we have to just stick with it,'" Matthews said. "But if you go look at this, they have a big TV out there, and you can see a dude just hit me in my chin. There's nothing wrong with going ahead and giving us the call, and you're right.

"Just get the right call. And that's just something that can bother somebody, because everybody sees that we messed up on this. Go ahead and get the right call out there. But it's just one of [those] things, I think it's the tradition of football and just going with the first call and trusting the refs ... but on a call like that, you would like to see them get it right because those are the dangerous things in football and you would just like to see them make that call the first time."
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