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League admits Sims-Walker call was wrong

Though the NFL defended on game day the decision by referee Alberto Riveron to overturn a call on the field of an incomplete pass and award a touchdown to Jaguars receiver Mike Sims-Walker in a 37-17 win over Tennessee, V.P. of officiating Mike Pereira candidly admitted during his weekly “Official Review” segment on NFL Network’s Total Access that Riveron got it wrong.

This is an incomplete pass,” Pereira said, “and [the referee] should have stayed with the call on the field.”

Pereira took blame for the situation, explaining that he sent a video to officials recently in an effort to clarify the rule regarding receptions made while a player is going to the ground.  His goal was to focus on the “second act” in determining whether a reception had been made.

“I think I got the referee away from the thought of what is actually complete or incomplete,” Pereira said.  (We admire Pereira both for leaning on the sword and for not calling out Riveron by name.  Still, Riveron should have known how to interpret the rule — and if he had any doubt he should have said so.)

As host Rich Eisen pointed out during the segment, the issue has come up multiple times this year, starting with the Louis Murphy catch in the Week One game between the Chargers and the Raiders.

Said Pereira in distinguishing the Murphy play from two Week Two situations in which the league determined (we’re still not persuaded) that the passes had been completed, “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.”

As it turns out, the people having difficulty grasping what is and isn’t a catch include one or more of the men whose Sunday best includes thick stripes of black and white.

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32 Responses to “League admits Sims-Walker call was wrong”
  1. teke184 says: Oct 8, 2009 12:00 PM

    At least the Sims-Walker call had little impact on the final victor, as the Jags were already up 20-3 at the time and the final margin was 20 points.
    That Louis Murphy call from Week 1 was a biggie considering that the 4 point difference between a TD and a FG would have been enough for the Raiders to take it into OT.

  2. KILLER FIN says: Oct 8, 2009 12:15 PM

    LIKE THAT WOULD HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE!!! How about the call against the Raiders & Chargers cost the Raiders the game!!!

  3. *Legion* says: Oct 8, 2009 12:17 PM

    I think the rule needs work. Sims-Walker makes the catch, gets 1-2-3 feet down on his way to the ground, falls on the defender instead of the ground, is laying on his back with the ball securely “caught” (but since he’s not yet touched the ground, he’s not “down”), and the defender punches the ball out.
    There’s no way to look at it as if he’s dropping the ball in the process of making the catch. The defender is punching the ball out after the receiver has already caught it and is laying on his back with the ball tucked away.
    If it happened on an open-field play instead of the endzone, and my favorite team was on defense, I would be *pissed* that such a play would not be ruled a catch-and-fumble.

  4. hiddentrack says: Oct 8, 2009 12:19 PM

    A quick show of hands from those who think that if this had been a call that determined the outcome of the game, Pereira would have found a way to say it was the right call…
    Pereira can stand there and say it was wrong because the Jaguars were already up 20 – 3 at that point. Even if they had to settle for a field goal, the Jaguars tacked on another 10 points in the second half, which would have made the final score 33 – 17, still out of reach for the Titans.
    If you’re having this problem every week and an updates you send to clarify the rule only serves to cause further confusion, the problem is with the original rule. The rule is poorly worded and needs to be rewritten.

  5. Joe in Toronto, Canada says: Oct 8, 2009 12:20 PM

    That Murphy call was crazy, in my opinion.
    The ball didn’t come loose until he started to get up to celebrate, the play was already over.

  6. Dan says: Oct 8, 2009 12:20 PM

    AGAIN: Change the friggin rule back the way it was.
    THIS RULE SUCKS big ones.

  7. ElCabong says: Oct 8, 2009 12:24 PM

    @ teke184
    “That Louis Murphy call from Week 1 was a biggie considering that the 4 point difference between a TD and a FG would have been enough for the Raiders to take it into OT.”
    That’s because the league office has it out for Al Davis. Tuck rule all over again.
    /not a Raider fan

  8. Agamemnon says: Oct 8, 2009 12:27 PM

    Alright, Mr. Florio. You’re starting to get to me a little bit on your harping of the officials. I can be as hard on officiating as anyone. But, I have to take issue with something you specifically said in this article.
    “We admire Pereira both for leaning on the sword and for not calling out Riveron by name. Still, Riveron should have known how to interpret the rule — and if he had any doubt he should have said so”
    It’s that last part that has my ire up. I work in the academic field, so I can speak from experience on this. A person can be instructed on something, think they understand, and have no doubts about it and still be wrong. I mean, look at all the comments and stories coming out this year about catching a ball and going to ground? If this was such a clear cut rule, there should be no debate about it what-so-ever. Add to this the fact that Pereira even admits that he may have some fault in this instance as he was attempting to clarify the rule for the officials. I have done this myself in class, where I try to clarify a poiont and only end up confusing students even more. It is especially frustrating when the students think that they do understand, but took what I said completely the wrong way. (Isn’t this why legal documents are so cconvoluted as language is used to attempt to be absolutely clear on subjects. It’s ironic that most legal documents are nearly impossible for the layman to understand.)
    Okay, enough ranting. We all love this sport. We hate to see our team get penalized by a mistake. It’s one of the reasons we have replay at all! Maybe we could improve the situation more by making NFL referees full time NFL employees. (Which would be another reason to go easier on the refs, even if they make mistakes. This isn’t the only job they do.)

  9. endzoneview says: Oct 8, 2009 12:27 PM

    Glad they owned up to the Sims-Walker mistake.
    However, the MAIN difference between the Murphy Week 1 play and the two cited Week 2 plays is that the actually “catch” in the Week 2 plays happened in the field of play and then the players crossed the threshold of the goal line. The Murphy play of course happened IN the endzone.
    Which is where the Sims-Walker TD happened as well so I had nothing to defend against it.
    Good job Periera

  10. Kidekk says: Oct 8, 2009 12:27 PM

    You know, and I’m sure it’s been said before, but they need to make the rule simple, not some complicated thing that the naked eye can’t make a consistent call on. They need to do one of those in-season rule changes like the NHL did last year.

  11. jb10 says: Oct 8, 2009 12:36 PM

    i’m shocked he admitted that they made a bad call. usually he is right there pulling out all the stops to defend his team.
    the rule obviously needs reworked. it should not be getting this much face time and as fans we should not be talking about it as much as we are. let’s hope they get is straightened out in the off season. if not before!

  12. birdmancometh says: Oct 8, 2009 12:37 PM

    Sometimes when I read these comments I want to stab my eyes out.

  13. sonvar says: Oct 8, 2009 12:38 PM

    Yeah this rule needs to be reviewed and redone immediately. Too many controversies already over it and it may end up costing some teams more games.

  14. xmostlyharmless says: Oct 8, 2009 12:46 PM

    He caught the ball, took three steps while being tackled, and while on the defender his left elbow hit the ground BEFORE the ball was stripped.
    Wouldn’t that elbow count as being down by contact, while in control of the ball? Therefore touchdown?
    No one seems to be mentioning the elbow in all of this.

  15. CYGNUS X-1 says: Oct 8, 2009 12:50 PM

    change the rule now!when you come down with both feet in bounds with the ball secure in your hands it’s a catch!if the ground can’t cause a fumbled while you are running and being tackled then it should not be a fumble if you have caught it then hit the ground.you may think it is clear cut but you had to be the only person who did not think the raiders got jobbed on that call.I don’t even like them but thought that was a catch as 99%of fans did.

  16. ATLien says: Oct 8, 2009 12:51 PM

    Good thing CBS Sportsline doesn’t go back and take away these fantasy points or else I’d end up losing. Whew!

  17. encinitasraider says: Oct 8, 2009 12:52 PM

    Just another way the refs can decide the outcome of games so Vegas is happy…

  18. FoulMood says: Oct 8, 2009 12:58 PM

    The lack of continuity on this rule, makes me question EVERY call made on any game.
    Especially roughing the QB, Holding, etc.
    Any call that is open to interpretation seems to change from game to game.
    We’ve heard players calling out discrepencies in how penalties are called multiple times in the last 4 weeks.
    The NFL Officials need to tighten this up.
    Peirera should be fired if he can’t get his officials “trained” any better than this…

  19. KILLER FIN says: Oct 8, 2009 1:08 PM

    this rule does suck & do does the Brady tuck rule too!!! take them out!!!

  20. encinitasraider says: Oct 8, 2009 1:09 PM

    Lets ask him the diffrence in celabrations this year.
    Dante Hall get a INT and after the play gets up points to the sky with the ball in his hand then goes to his knees. NO FOUL CALLED.
    Chris Johnson of the Raiders get INT and does the samething, 15 yard Flag?

  21. Txraider says: Oct 8, 2009 1:33 PM

    Keep in mind also that Chris Johnson caught 3 INT’s last year, did the exact same thing and was never penalized for it.
    Or about how the Texans players celebrated a touchdown with two players celebrating together in the endzone and were not penalized.

  22. 4lilnoles says: Oct 8, 2009 1:40 PM

    *Legion* says:
    October 8, 2009 12:17 PM
    I think the rule needs work. Sims-Walker makes the catch, gets 1-2-3 feet down on his way to the ground, falls on the defender instead of the ground, is laying on his back with the ball securely “caught” (but since he’s not yet touched the ground, he’s not “down”), and the defender punches the ball out.
    Wow….no wonder Sims-Walker is playing better this year…..He’s got 3 feet.

  23. mrssmith says: Oct 8, 2009 1:44 PM

    In the bonus coverage on NFL.com, this was addressed and Pereira said the flag should not have been thrown..gave some excuse that the ref was behind him and didn’t see/know he was praising God..
    encinitasraider says:
    Lets ask him the diffrence in celabrations this year.
    Dante Hall get a INT and after the play gets up points to the sky with the ball in his hand then goes to his knees. NO FOUL CALLED.
    Chris Johnson of the Raiders get INT and does the samething, 15 yard Flag?

  24. Patsfan1776 says: Oct 8, 2009 1:52 PM

    encinitasraider says:
    October 8, 2009 12:52 PM
    Just another way the refs can decide the outcome of games so Vegas is happy…
    _____________________________
    My thoughts exactly! The more rules, the more everything is gray, and the more “flexibility” there is in making a call or not making a call.
    Also, it always looks like there is a call made to sway a game but if you really watch an entire game, the games are decided on the calls that aren’t made. Usually holding or bumping past 5yds from scrimmage.

  25. jj jones says: Oct 8, 2009 2:38 PM

    Looked like a TD to me. He was down when the ball was knocked out by the defender. He had gotten three feet down and landed with the ball in his control.

  26. obscenery says: Oct 8, 2009 2:42 PM

    I agree with *Legion*. And i apologize for criticizing Florio on his uncertainty with the rule.
    I think Pereira is wrong. Unless a 3rd step with possession of the football doesn’t count as a “football move” and that is clearly defined in the rule book, that was a touchdown catch.
    It doesn’t matter how many times i watch the replay. First foot, second foot, third step, falls on defender, ball comes loose.
    What needs to be defined, apparently, is what constitutes a “football move”. If touching your foot to the ground with full possession of the football isn’t a “football move”, then what the heck is?

  27. AD4MVP says: Oct 8, 2009 2:44 PM

    I am sick of the officials complicating the rules with all this extra verbage that just makes their job harder. Focus on the “second act” to determine if it is a catch? WTF. Either you come down with control of the ball or you dont, easy enough I would think.

  28. BUNYAN says: Oct 8, 2009 3:00 PM

    The NFL is now run like a government bureucracy. Regulation on top of regulation. Rule on top of rule. They think they’re making things better, but instead they’re making things worse. The game to me is no longer watchable. They worry about the games integrity, but they are in the process of destroying it. When we watch a game on tv and we see the play in question we know right away if it’s a penalty or not or if it is a touchdown or not. They repeat the play on instant replay and in slow motion and everyone watching knows if the call is right or wrong. Then the play is reviewed and the ref”s call it wrong again. We sit there in amazment wondering what in God’s gray earth were they seeing that we weren’t? Everything has gone wrong in the nfl. The quarterbacks are coddled. The receivers are coddled. The ref’s can call a penalty anytime they feel like it. I’m tired of the ref’s and the powers that be determining ths games outcome. The NFL is not about football anymore. It’s about the money. They have now turned it into the WWF. It’s no longer about competition between 32 teams. It’s now entertainment. I have finally had enough. I’ve been watching this game since 1968. It has been regulated to death by the league. You can’t even make a tackle or a good hit without getting flagged by the ref based on some obscure rule. Iam cancelling my Sunday ticket from Direct Tv. I have had enough. They are taking our money and deciding the outcome of games.

  29. Bob S. says: Oct 8, 2009 3:12 PM

    simple and correct solution- on a pass reception if you have possession when you hit the ground, just like on a running play, the play ends there- period!

  30. divertito says: Oct 8, 2009 5:12 PM

    For anyone that thinks the NFL rule is too complicated, take a look at the MLB rule for what constitutes a catch, http://www.baseball-almanac.com/rule2.shtml. A catch can be difficult to define, but this is not rocket science.
    One of my favorite phrases, “…shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.” Applied to the NFL, if a receiver wants the catch, 1) establish your self down, and 2) DO NOT DROP THE BALL. Maybe the NFL rule could use some further clarification of specific scenarios like the MLB rule contains, but it really doesn’t seem incomplete right now.
    The whole going down to the ground thing seems perfectly straight forward to me. When the guy hits the ground, did he drop it? Yes, no catch. No, it’s a catch. How hard is that? It stupified me when during the Raider game, Mike and Mike commented “oh that’s a catch, no doubt…” when the receiver VERY clearly lost the ball when he hit the ground. How is this so hard? I don’t understand the confusion.

  31. AutumnWind999 says: Oct 8, 2009 11:20 PM

    “As it turns out, the people having difficulty grasping what is and isn’t a catch include one or more of the men whose Sunday best includes thick stripes of black and white.”
    —-
    Actually, it’s pretty easy. When a receiver from 31 teams has control of the ball and hits the ground and maintains control of the ball, it’s a catch, regardless of what happens after that initial contact with the ground. When a receiver from the Raiders catches a ball, has a knee on the ground, maintains control, has his hip on the ground, maintains control, has his elbow hit the ground, arguably maintains control and then loses the ball as he’s about to get up, it’s the kind of “irrefutable evidence” needed to overturn the catch on a booth initiated instant replay.

  32. Tomos ANTIGUA Tomos says: Oct 9, 2009 2:13 PM

    If getting your left leg down, your right leg down, your left leg down again, having your right elbow hit the turf and still hold onto the ball before it’s ripped loose doesn’t count as having gone to ground, then when the hell is the play over? After he’s back on his feet and hip-bumping his teammate?
    Going by this example, if a receiver is going to ground then a defender can rip the ball out at any point before the player gets back up or tosses the ball to an official. How are you supposed to ref that?

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