With just seconds remaining in the game and Chicago beating Detroit 19-14, Lions receiver Calvin Johnson appeared to make a beautiful game-winning touchdown catch in the end zone.
But after the official on the field who appeared to have the best view of the play ruled a touchdown, a second official came in and said that Johnson hadn’t maintained control of the ball. The referee then reviewed the replay and confirmed the ruling on the field of an incomplete pass.
Two more Lions passes fell incomplete after that, and the Bears held on to win. Bears fans celebrated; Lions fans thought they just got ripped off.
The rule in question came up in September of last year, when Louis Murphy of the Raiders caught what many fans thought was a touchdown, but was ruled incomplete. Mike Pereira, then the head of NFL officiating, defended the officials’ ruling. Pereira now works for FOX, and he said during the Lions-Bears broadcast that incomplete pass was the correct ruling.
The rule in question states, “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.”
To everyone who saw Johnson’s non-catch, tell us what you think in the comments: Did the officials get this one right? Or were the Lions screwed out of a game-winning touchdown?