What’s a catch? Better yet, what’s a recovery? And what happens when there is no recovery?

That controversy briefly reared its ugly head Sunday early in the wild-card playoff game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears.

The good news is that the call on the field, ultimately, was correct. The bad news is that the sequence was confusing to viewers as it was unfolding.

In the moment, game officials were left to sort out a situation in which Mitchell Trubisky hit wide receiver Anthony Miller with a pass just before halftime. Miller took a few steps before losing possession as Eagles defensive back Cre’Von LeBlanc grabbed hold. The play was ruled an incomplete pass, but replays showed Miller securing and then losing possession of the ball, apparently making it a completion followed by a fumble. Here’s the kicker: No one recovered the ball, which was picked up by an official.

So often, defensive players scoop up a dead ball and run with it, not giving officials a chance to interfere. Better to suffer the momentary embarrassment of a touchdown or return that doesn’t count than to violate Coaching 101 and fail to play on until you’re certain the action is over. In the earlier Chargers-Ravens wild-card game, the Ravens' Marlon Humphrey did just that, returning a Melvin Gordon fumble more than 100 yards, only to have officials determine that Gordon was down and Humphrey’s return wouldn’t count.

Back to the Eagles-Bears situation. Because neither team gained possession, officials (correctly) stuck with their (incorrect) initial ruling, which was later explained by Al Riveron, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating.

“The receiver controlled the ball with two feet down and took an additional step, so it was a catch,” he explained on the NFL Officiating Twitter feed. “However, because he was not down by contact and there was ‘no video evidence of a clear recovery or the ball going out of bounds,’ the ruling of incomplete stands.”

Was that helpful? Let’s go to experts with plenty of in-the-moment experience.

“At the end of the half since there was no clear recovery the ruling of incomplete stands,” tweeted Fox’s Dean Blandino, who previously held Riveron’s job. “If either team would have recovered or the ball went OB [out of bounds] they can make it a catch and fumble.”

“Instant replay was correct in staying with incomplete pass,” Fox’s Mike Pereira, who also once held Riveron’s job, tweeted. “[The only way] to go from incomplete to catch and fumble is if there is a clear recovery by either team or if the ball goes out of bounds. Case book plays 15.114 and 15.115.”

CBS’s Gene Steratore, who retired last summer after 35 years as a game official, tweeted: “In order to overturn a ruling of incomplete pass to catch & fumble, there must be a clear recovery by either team OR the ball must go out of bounds. In #PHIvsCHI, neither occurred. By rule, you have to stay with the ruling of incomplete pass.”

Blandino went on to point out that the confusion was needless, as was the review.

“This is a great point regarding the review near the end of the half on the incomplete pass ruling,” he replied to a Twitter user. “It was obvious there was no recovery so no need to stop the game. Should communicate to TV that was the case so everyone understands why no review.”

NFL Officiating elaborated by citing the case book. Got that?

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