The spray affected players, coaches, on-field personnel, and fans in the stands near the Eagles sideline. Reactions included burning eyes and nose as well as vomiting. Players used towels to cover their mouths and fans used their shirts to shield their faces.
The fumes were not immediately identified as pepper spray. Security quickly evacuated the sideline until the cause could be determined. It soon was discovered that police had used pepper spray to break up a fight in the stands and cooling fans behind the Philadelphia sidelines had helped spread the spray toward the field.
“It just went right into my nose, and I started sneezing,” Philadelphia receiver Antonio Freeman said. “I was concerned with my breathing. I had so many post-9/11 thoughts running through my head, especially with this game being in Washington and on prime time. It was unfortunate.”