In yet another NFL playoff game in the first month of 2015, there’s going to be a fair amount of debate over a call by officials.
In the Dallas Cowboys’ NFC division playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, Dez Bryant made a miraculous catch on a fourth-down pass from Tony Romo near the Green Bay goal line, a catch that was one of the best ever in the playoffs. Until it wasn’t.
Packers Coach Mike McCarthy threw the challenge flag and the play was determined to be an incomplete pass because the ground “actually can cause an incomplete pass,” according to Mike Pereira of Fox Sports. It was, the NFL’s former head of officiating said, correct according to the letter of the rule book. Jim Daopoulos agreed.
Incomplete pass lost control as he hit ground. Should be reversed
— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) January 11, 2015
The NFL’s head of officiating, Dean Blandino, offered clarity:
Bryant going to the ground. By rule he must hold onto it throughout entire process of contacting the ground. He didn't so it is incomplete.
— Dean Blandino (@DeanBlandino) January 11, 2015
And the rule itself states:
If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.
Not many fans liked it when the call was overturned, even fewer understood what was wrong with the catch. That includes Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants.
I by no means cheer for Dallas but I have no idea what or how thts not called a catch . Thts a joke
— Odell Beckham Jr (@OBJ_3) January 11, 2015
Bryant was mystified. “What am I supposed to do?” he said “I’m just reaching for the goal line. I don’t understand.”
The Detroit Lions, who were on the short end of calls in their playoff game against the Cowboys last week, sympathized.
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) January 11, 2015
Dez Bryant is not taking this well pic.twitter.com/BatvfRzFhV
— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) January 11, 2015
— Paul Pabst (@PaulPabst) January 11, 2015
Cowboys fan LeBron James was uncertain, too.
What is the definition of a catch or not in the NFL? I really wanna know? No one can answer the ?
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 11, 2015