Ref unsure if play gave Eagles 1st down

Updated: November 12, 2009, 6:22 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING -- NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira said Wednesday night on NFL Network that there was a slight mistake in the Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys game on Sunday night.

Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was ruled short after a quarterback dive on a fourth-and-1 with 11:01 to play in the fourth quarter. Eagles coach Andy Reid challenged the ruling and after a review, the referees said the ruling on the field was correct. It cost the Eagles their final timeout of the game, something that would come back to haunt them later.

Pereira said of the spot by referee Walt Coleman: "I think I would have moved it."

Replays showed that McNabb landed near the edge of the Eagles logo but the ball was spotted behind that. Pereira said the ball should have been moved a few inches, but he wasn't sure if it would have given the Eagles a first down.

"I haven't talked to [Pereira]. From what he said, he might have changed it some but it still wasn't close," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said Thursday. "I have to talk to Mike. We would have stopped them anyway even if they would have made it.

"It wasn't a touchdown, it was a first down but they didn't make it. I'm telling you, I was watching it and the [official] spotted it exactly where [McNabb was down]. He took the ball from his hands and put it right there. Now I don't know how you can spot it any better than that. [McNabb] never reached out."

Phillips, in a discussion with reporters, demonstrated how the official took the ball from McNabb and spotted the ball. The Cowboys coach is being careful what he says because he doesn't want to get fined by the league for criticizing the officials.

Phillips said he wouldn't second-guess whether or not Reid should have challenged the call but did say 29 percent of challenges regarding the spot for a first down is overturned.

"Spotting the ball is hard to challenge," Phillips said.

NFL teams have converted 62 percent of fourth-and-1 plays, and the Eagles rank 28th in the league at 25 percent. The Cowboys are the only NFL team without attempting a fourth-and-1 play in the league.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.