In the online-only bonus coverage of some of the biggest calls from Week Two, NFL V.P. of officiating Mike Pereira addresses the two plays from Week Two that seemed to contradict the decision in the last game of Week One to take points off the board in Oakland.
Late in the first half of the Chargers-Raiders game, receiver Louis Murphy made a catch in the end zone, got two feet down with the ball, continued to the ground, and lost possession.
As to Week Two, the league continues to stand behind the position that the decision to award a touchdown to Texans receiver Jacoby Jones and Panthers tight end Dante Rosario was correct.
Lamented Pereira at the outset of the discussion with NFL Network’s Paul Burmeister, “I really feel bad about this. I mean, this has gotten to be so convoluted, this whole act of catching a pass when you’re going to the ground, that it’s very difficult for people to grasp what is a catch and what isn’t a catch.”
Again, here’s the rule: “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.”
Regarding the Jones catch, Pereira explained that the catch was good when Jones hit the ground the first time, and that the loss of possession after Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan flipped Jones to the ground a second time didn’t matter.
“This is a catch and it needs to stay a catch,” Pereira said.
But, in our view, Jones wasn’t on the ground long enough to actually be “on the ground.” He only glanced the ground as part of a continuous action that resulted in him eventually landing on the ground, and losing the ball.
It’s a visceral sense, a “know it when you see it” type of a thing. Jones’ knee and elbow hit only momentarily while he was rolling to the ground with Finnegan. But, as we see it, Jones wasn’t on the ground until he hit the ground a second time. And, at that point, he lost the ball.
As to the Rosario play, it’s a matter of subjective interpretation as to whether Rosario completed the catch before he hit the ground. In our view, the real question is whether Rosario would have stayed on his feet if he hadn’t lunged for the goal line. And it looked like Rosario was heading to the ground regardless of whether he lunged for the goal line. Thus, he was going to the ground and he should have maintained possession after he struck the ground.
So, no catch.
And even though we understand where the league is coming from, the bigger concern we have is that, if Jones and Rosario each made a good catch, then Louis Murphy’s play from Week One should have been upheld on review, too.