I know a thing or two about football as well. So I’m taking a break from baseball to talk about something that has been on my mind…and the entire world’s mind. The non-catch.
I’m a Cowboys fan. I love them. So naturally I’m biased in the sense that I think it was a catch. Half the world did, the other half didn’t. But putting aside my bias and looking at the play, it confuses me.
It confused EVERYONE! Yes, the select few that read all of the rules for the NFL knew that it would be ruled “not a catch.” But to the eye of the average football watch (heck, to even some obsessed football watchers!), it looked like a catch. What is the point of having a rule so ambiguous that even the people who are playing the game don’t know what is classified as a catch?
Odell Beckham Jr. tweeted that he had now clue how that was not a catch. A Giants player. So every single time a wide receiver catches a ball, they have to think as they are heading towards the ground, “was it good enough to have possession of the ball or do I have to make an extra football move to actually have this be considered a catch?” I mean, when is it determined that three steps with possession is enough and when it just isn’t? Yes, he was falling, but it looked like any other play. An arm slightly outstretch? Apparently not reaching out with a “football move.”
Do you see how this rule can just be a LITTLE bit confusing, NFL? If not just for the fans, but for the players as well.
What is the point of having a rule that NO ONE UNDERSTANDS?? WAKE UP!
Naturally, getting rid of the rule will not change the outcome of the game. It will not send the Cowboys to Seattle (even though Dallas probably had a better shot at knocking out the defending champs, due to more fire and offensive scrappiness throughout the season, but I digress). The point is, it won’t make a difference now. But it will in the future and if that rule gets changed, I will get over this loss…maybe.
The rule is confusing. Watching the shot-by-shot of the play, Bryant DOES have his knee down prior to his forearm hitting the ground. He has possession…enough possession as to switch the ball to his other arm to stretch out and hopefully break the plane. Watching the play in both fast and slow motion, you see the knee hit prior to the ball coming loose. Cradling the ball between the hand and the forearm is a common move in football and several, if not the majority of, players keep control making a move like that, only to have the ball squirt out after the knee is down with no consequences.
The rule itself doesn’t just take away from a basic part of the game; it takes away from the fans watching the game by ultimately saying that what they think they see and what they think they know. It proves that the fan knows nothing and the NFL knows all. How can something so basic, such as a catch, turn into something so complicated?
The rule is an extra nit-picky way to analyze a simple part of the game. In the most recent incident with Bryant, and even in 2010 with Calvin Johnson, the plays appeared to be catches for a huge gain or a touchdown, respectively. How is it fair that some players can stretch out and barely break the plane then lose the ball and still have 6 points, while Johnson can cleanly catch the ball in the endzone, take two steps and fall and have it ruled an incomplete pass?
And Mike Pereira…I am under the impression that control and possession are very similar, if not the same. So don’t try to defend the overturned call by saying he had “control” but not “possession” of the ball, at least not without saying why your special analyst powers told you different definitions.
As fans, we don’t want to feel stupid or blind-sided by rules we don’t know or just don’t make sense. And this rule and situation made us feel all of the above. Dallas could have won several ways. Had Demarco Murray not fumbled in the first half, the Cowboys would have taken momentum into the second half. Why had they thrown on that 4th and 2 instead of using their dominant running game to get the first down and waste away the clock? No clue, but there are many more situations that didn’t go their way.
So, a game is a game. A catch might not even be a catch. And ultimately, a rule should be changed.
photo courtesy of AP Photo