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The NFL Rule Book: Call that a catch? Update – Part 1

Two week ago, I addressed the most infuriating rule in pro sports and its infuriating aversion to common sense:


Two week ago, I addressed the most infuriating rule in pro sports and its infuriating aversion to common sense: The NFL’ s catch rule. Now we have 3 more catches/non-catches that seem to contradict each other and, yet again, common sense. In the game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Atlanta Falcons, early in the 1st quarter Dwight Lowery intercepted Matt Ryan in the end zone. As you can see in the video, the referee’s called it an interception on the field and upheld that decision after further review. This was an awful call. The ball clearly hits the ground and rotates before Lowery clearly gains possession. According to the rule then, this pass should have been incomplete as Lowery did not complete the process of a catch whilst going to the ground. I guess the argument for it being complete is that it never bounced completely out of his position, but that’s a very weak argument. It hit the floor and clearly moved before the rest of his body hit the floor, that doesn’t sound like a catch to me. The next controversy came in the early 2nd quarter of the Raiders @ Lions match-up. Michael Crabtree caught a pass on the sideline for what would’ve been a first down on 3rd and 9. He got both feet down in bounds and took 3 steps out of bounds with the ball clearly in his possession as he was pushed by a defender. As he was falling down out of bounds, having taken multiple steps, he lost the ball in the exact same way as Calvin Johnson did in his infamous no-catch against the Bears – he put it down. It was ruled incomplete on the field after the referee’s discussed it. This one got me fired up when I saw it. It my mind this was so clearly a catch, regardless of the rule. He obviously had possession in bounds and even took multiple steps prior to losing the ball, out of bounds. It just doesn’t make sense that this was ruled incomplete, but Lowery’s – ignoring the previously addressed controversies – was ruled complete. I think this example is possibly one of the biggest advocates for changing the rule, even Mike Carey – NFL on CBS Officiating Expert – agrees that it should’ve been a catch. The final controversy came again in the Colts @ Falcons game. With 11 seconds left and looking to get into field goal position, Julio Jones reached over 2 Colts defenders to haul in a pass from Matt Ryan. He had instantaneous control of the ball and took 4 clear steps as he was falling to the ground. As he landed on the floor, Lowery reached his hand up and knocked the ball out of Jones’ hands. This play is a lot more debatable when it comes to the ruling. I feel as though the steps he took and him hitting the ground – having being contacted – with clear possession of the ball is enough to make it a catch, and then down by contact. But, technically speaking, the ruling was correct. With the rule change I provided in the previous article, what would’ve been the outcome of these plays? Lowery’s interception isn’t effected by my proposed changes, but it should’ve been ruled incomplete as the ball was not clearly in his possession as he hit the ground. Crabtree’s would be ruled a completed pass as he got both feet down and in bounds and then took several steps out of bounds before the ball came out. Finally, Julio Jones’ would be ruled a catch too, as he took multiple steps and hit the ground with possession of the ball. However, he would’ve been down by contact, in bounds, so the Falcons would have probably still lost as they couldn’t stop the clock.


Remy Cabache

Lifetime sports fan. I have written with RealSport since the NFL section started and I have also written for my own blog, EbonyBird.com and I have had several articles published in local newspapers covering my local (American) football team.

The NFL Rule Book: Call that a catch? Update – Part 1

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