With 4:42 left in the NFC semifinal game, Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver Dez Bryant held his arms up in anticipation of a touchdown call after making a leaping fourth down catch over Green Bay Packers’ defensive back Sam Shields and falling into the end zone. But after a Green Bay challenge and an instant replay, referee Gene Steratore reversed the call, setting up Randall Cobb’s 12-yard reception on third-and-11. Green Bay won by a score of 26 -21, but after the game, Bryant’s catch that apparently wasn’t a catch was the topic of discussion with fellow NFL players and commentators equally puzzled by what has been referred to as the “Calvin Johnson Rule.”
“I by no means cheer for Dallas, but I have no idea what or how that’s not called a catch,” New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. tweeted. “That’s a joke. How is that not a catch?”
The official ruling by the NFL, as the league’s rulebook states is as follows:
“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.”
Both Bryant and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett disputed the call, but Garrett conceded the game wasn’t won or lost on one particular play.
NFL Vice President Of Officiating Dean Blandino weighed in on the play with the following tweet:
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