We were horrified last night by the fact that the ESPN “B” team didn’t realize that the second-quarter touchdown reception by Raiders receiver Louis Murphy wasn’t really a touchdown because Murphy fell to the ground while making the catch, the ball struck the ground, and — like Costanza getting a massage from a man — it moved.
We’ve been even more amazed by the sheer number of folks who write or talk about sports for a living who think that the referee blew the call. (As to the Raiders fans who believe they’ve been deliberately screwed — again — it’s one of those red state/blue state, hot-button, heel-digging issues. So we don’t expect to persuade any of them that the call wasn’t part of an ongoing conspiracy to keep the silver and black down. So we won’ try.)
Earlier today, we contacted NFL V.P. of officiating Mike Pereira for an explanation of the rule.
We were informed that the applicable standard comes from Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 1:
“Player Going to the Ground. 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.”
So, basically, if the player goes to the ground while catching a pass and maintains possession of the ball at all times, the ball may touch the ground. But if the ball moves while touching the ground, the player necessarily has lost control of it.
And that’s exactly what happened to Murphy. He went to the ground, and when he hit the ground, the ball hit the ground, and it moved.
That’s the rule, folks. In fact, the rule used to be that if the ball touched the ground at all in the act of making the reception, the pass was incomplete.
Here, the ball struck the ground, and the ball moved.
It’s not an anti-Raiders interpretation, and it’s something that folks in the media should have known.
If they didn’t as of last night, we hope they do now.