PHILADELPHIA, JAN. 5 -- The Philadelphia Eagles scattered onto the field doing victory dances and exchanging high-fives before beginning to look angrily toward the press box, where instant replay officials had begun to work.

Meanwhile, the Washington Redskins stood silently, some motioning toward the artificial turf, some walking toward their bench. The Redskins eventually won, 20-6, but in one of the most bizarre scenes of this or any other season -- and in the finest day ever for instant replays, as far as Washington is concerned -- officials made one of the key plays of the game when they overruled what had originally been called an Earnest Byner fumble.

The ball squirted away from him at the Philadelphia 6-yard line as the Redskins led 7-6 and appeared to be moving in for another score. But he was upended by cornerback Ben Smith and lost the ball. Smith picked it up and ran 94 yards for an apparent touchdown.

If the score had stood, the Eagles would have taken a 13-7 lead with 48 seconds left in the half. After examining tapes for about two minutes, the play was reversed and the Redskins were given the ball back as most of the 65,287 at the Vet booed.

After the reversal, Chip Lohmiller kicked a 20-yard field goal for a 10-6 lead. Replays clearly showed Byner lost the ball as a result of hitting the turf, not as a result of the collision with Smith.

NFL rules state that fumbles can't be caused by hitting the ground. At the point that he touches the ground, a runner is considered down.

"Do I like instant replay?" Redskins linebacker Monte Coleman asked. "Today I do."

Today, a lot of Redskins liked it. "I felt the ball jar away when I hit the turf," Byner said. "I was a little concerned about whether or not they'd make the call. But as far as I was concerned, the ground caused the fumble. There was no two ways about it."

Replay official George Sladky said the play hadn't been simple. "What I look for on that play is whether the ground caused the fumble and whether contact was made before he hit the ground. And we had a good end zone television shot that clearly showed he was contacted and came down with control and the ground caused the fumble."

He had to look at several angles, adding, "The line feed didn't show us anything. Then we got the end zone shot. . . . ABC gave us a good shot. We looked at every version we had. There were a couple of more in there too."

Replays showed that as Smith flipped Byner, he landed elbow first on the ground. "He's down {when his elbow touches}," Sladky said.

Smith disagreed.

"I saw him coming at me and lower his head," he said. "I thought, 'I've got to make a big play.' I hit him and I know the ball came out before he hit the ground. He was in the air. I picked it up and started running. But in my heart, I knew maybe something was going to happen. It was too good to be true. If we get the play, we win."

"I definitely felt it come out when I hit the ground. I didn't really get nervous. You just wonder if they'll make the call," Byner said.