We’ll been flooded with e-mails regarding a controversial call from the first half of the game between the Buccaneers and the Dolphins in Miami.
With 1:43 remaining before the half and Tampa Bay facing second and 12 on its own four, quarterback Josh Freeman threw a pass to receiver Michael Clayton, who while making the catch was knocked down. The ball popped out just after his torso struck the ground, and Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor then was running it into the end zone.
The call on the field was an incomplete pass. The booth called for a replay review.
And referee Tony Corrente decided that the the pass was indeed incomplete as to Clayton — and that Jason Taylor had caught the ball before it hit the ground.
The play relies upon the same rule that has applied several times this season. When a player making a catch is going to the ground, he must maintain the possession through the act of landing.
In this case, if the call on the field had been that the pass was completed, there might not have been sufficient visual evidence to overturn it. Here, the officials decided correctly that there was insufficient visual evidence to overturn the decision that Clayton didn’t catch it. The question was whether Taylor caught the ball after it popped up from Clayton’s chest.
The video in that regard was clear — Taylor made the catch, and Corrente awarded possession to the Dolphins.
So the officials got it right, via replay review.
Actually, if they’d gotten it completely right the call on the field would have been that Taylor had scored a touchdown.