Sunday, January 11, 2015
In The Act of Catching A Pass - Someone Got It Wrong
The reason Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant's catch should have stood is in the rules. The rule 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."
I believe Dez was in the act of running and not catching the ball, thereby negating the rule. He became a runner once he hauled in the pass and turned to lunge toward the goal line for extra yardage and/or a touchdown. He had complete control of the ball tucked firmly against the inner part of his left arm.
Dez caught the ball, turned, took steps, dove forward with the ball in his left arm while using his right hand against the ground to catapult his body forward, hoping to break the goal line. His right elbow and knee hit the ground before his left arm with the ball did. That alone constitutes a down by contact call as he was making a football move, not falling after the catch.
Comparing Dez Bryan'ts play to the Detroit Lions Calvin Johnson play is comparing apples and oranges. Johnson's reversal was a first game in September, whereas Bryant's was within the final 5:00 minutes of a January divisional playoff game.
Calvin Johnson was falling to the ground, off balance after the catch, in premature celebration mode, and the ball slipped out of his hand when it hit the ground. That was a catch, fall and ball pops out. Bryant's was a catch, football move lunge and the ball comes out after his knee and elbow were down. The rule clearly states, 'going to the ground in the act of catching a pass', there lies the controversy in Dez and possibly Calvin's reversals. There lies the blunder.
Sometimes, in big games such as divisional playoff games, you gotta defer to the spirit of the rule. The rule is there to make sure a receiver falling to the ground after a catch has and maintains possession of the football. The NFL is truly losing its football spirit.