The 30 Most Memorable Moments of the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles Season, #8: Ronnie Brown Goal Line Fumble

By Bryn Swartz

There are about a hundred moments from the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles season that I will never get over, and that’s probably not an exaggeration.

Most of the bad moments have been covered already in this series, such as Nnamdi Asomugha’s inability to cover Victor Cruz, Larry Fitzgerald’s deep reception against Jaiquawn Jarrett, Alex Henery’s missed field goals against San Francisco, or DeSean Jackson’s benching against Arizona. There is also Marshawn Lynch’s beast mode touchdown, Chas Henry’s failed fake punt pass, and yeah, you get the point.

But there is one play that I will not get over. Ever. As long as I live.

This is what happened…

In the second quarter of the Eagles-49ers game, the Eagles had third and goal on the one-yard line. The Eagles led 10-3 and a touchdown would put the Birds up by 14.

Mike Vick handed off to backup running back Ronnie Brown, who was stopped dead in his tracks about three yards behind the line of scrimmage. Guard Kyle DeVan was blocked into Brown, who started to fall over.

As Brown was going down, he attempted to throw the ball. It appears that the pass was intended for fullback Owen Schmitt.

It landed on the ground and was recovered by San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman at the four-yard line.

After the game, Brown attempted to justify the play.

“It was a pass-run option,” Brown said. “It doesn’t matter what the play is called if it’s not executed the way it’s supposed to be. The guy got in the backfield. He made a play, and I didn’t make a good decision with the ball. I was thinking, from my end, to possibly throw the ball away, because I felt like I had already lost yards, because he was in the backfield. So I figure if I throw it away, it’s still fourth down, but we’re still close enough to the goal line to where we could go for it or kick the field goal. It’s gotta be a better decision on my part.”

Here’s my comparison.

I play football with my little cousins every Thanksgiving afternoon. When one of them catches a pass and a defender is coming at them, they’ll turn around and just throw the ball at the nearest person they see to avoid being ‘tackled’.

That’s exactly what Brown’s play was. It was something that a middle schooler would do.

It was the stupidest play I have ever seen by a Philadelphia Eagles player and it ultimately ended up costing us the game. We missed the playoffs by a single game, so you could make a case that Brown’s blunder cost us the season.

It was a play so bad, and so embarrassing, that the Eagles even tried to trade Ronnie Brown to Detroit midway through the season (which didn’t work because the player they receiver, Jerome Harrison, failed his physical).

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