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When catching a pass, "second act" exception does not exist

We’ve watched the new “Competition Committee” segment from Wednesday night’s edition of Total Access, and we’ve read MDS’s excellent summary of the message from Colts president Bill Polian.

Said Polian in defending the decision to take a game-winning touchdown away from the Lions, “For those of us who know the rule, there’s not a lot of confusion.”

The problem isn’t the rule, but the so-called “second act” exception.  It was applied to give the Saints a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIV when receiver Lance Moore caught a pass at the goal line while falling, pushed the ball over the goal line while falling, and lost possession of the ball become coming to rest.

During the Super Bowl, former V.P. of officiating Mike Pereira said (via NFL spokesman Greg Aiello) that the officials made the right decision:  “By rule, when a receiver with possession of the ball is in the act of
going to the ground and performs a second act by reaching out to break
the plane, that completes the process of the catch and the ball is dead
when it breaks the plane.”

The term “by rule” implies that there’s a rule somewhere, anywhere that acknowledges the ability of a receiver to perform a “second act.”  Though Polian’s segment could have been more clear on this point, it sounds as if he’s saying that the “second act” exception does not exist, even though new V.P. of officiating Carl Johnson has cited the “second act” exception when recently explaining the Lance Moore play.

There’s no second act in possession,” Polian told Rich Eisen of NFL Network. 

But then Polian suggested that Moore “did complete the play” when putting the ball over the goal line, which seems to indicate that there is a “second act” in possession.

Apart from Polian’s remarks, a source with knowledge of the league’s thinking on this issue has explained to us that, indeed, there is no and should be no “second act” exception.  As a result, the only rule that matters is the rule that requires a receiver who goes to the ground while securing possession to keep possession through the first and only act of going to the ground.

And this makes Polian’s remarks — and his uncharacteristic restraint — even more confusing.  Based on the current contention that a “second act” exception doesn’t exist, Polian’s Colts as a practical matter were screwed during a key moment of Super Bowl XLIV.

As we’ve recently mentioned, former Colts coach Tony Dungy pointed out on Sunday night at 30 Rock that a late-game five-point lead entails a much different dynamic than a late-game seven-point lead.  On the ensuing drive, which was capped by cornerback Tracy Porter’s pick-six of Peyton Manning, the Saints knew that giving up a touchdown would at worst set the stage for overtime.  If the Saints had led only by five, the Super Bowl would have been hanging in the balance on the Colts’ next drive.

By all rights, Polian should be livid that the non-existent notion of a “second act” was adopted to put his team in a seven-point hole late in the championship game.  Privately, he possibly is.  Publicly, he’s apparently opting to help circle the league’s wagons on an issue that has proved to be vexing, precisely because of this “second act” exception.

As best we can tell, the reality is that the league previously recognized a “second act” exception and, going forward, it will not be acknowledged.  Under the rules as currently written, it’s the right approach.  But don’t expect the league to admit in a clear and understandable fashion the fact that, during the climax to the 2009 season, a rule that really isn’t a rule helped the Saints rule over the rest of the league.
 

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96 Responses to “When catching a pass, "second act" exception does not exist”
  1. G-man says: Sep 15, 2010 11:07 PM

    Just curious–Didn’t the “catch” occur when he got control of the ball five feet in the air and then when his feet hit the ground? Wouldn’t that make the “second act” his butt hitting the ground? Wouldn’t that, then, make the “third act” the action of rolling over and then placing the ball on the ground?

  2. tooz56 says: Sep 15, 2010 11:11 PM

    huh?

  3. rdiz17 says: Sep 15, 2010 11:13 PM

    Super Bowl loss……. 0-1 start…….here come the excuses from the Colts

  4. PFT_Anonymous says: Sep 15, 2010 11:13 PM

    Huh? Don’t do drugs and try to explain the ‘going to the ground’ rule, kids.

  5. edgarpoe says: Sep 15, 2010 11:15 PM

    The NFL wants to control the outcomes of games and rules like this make it happen. There will be similar plays made by chosen teams and, suddenly, the refs will either not see it or “interpret” it differently. Inconsistency is the status quo and most fans don’t care.

  6. FinFan68 says: Sep 15, 2010 11:20 PM

    The moore catch was legit. He caught the ball, lost it upon hitting the ground, and regained control before the ball touched the ground. Catch over at that point. Then he reached the ball over the goal line (2 pt conversion successful as soon as it broke the plane) where a Colt player kicked the ball free. You guys are not hung up on the rule…you are hung up on an imperfect verbal explanation….let it go. The fact is, by rule the refs were right, but by common sense, the Lions got screwed. If CJ would have not tried to get up so fast or if he would have demonstrably spiked the ball at that moment this controversy would not exist.

  7. Sarge says: Sep 15, 2010 11:20 PM

    Sounds like a lawyer wrote this.

  8. kayC says: Sep 15, 2010 11:21 PM

    Yeah, rdiz17, we Colts fans are really getting panicky over losing one game. We’re about to start unleashing our crazy excuses all over everyone. *rolls eyes* Idiot.

  9. RagnarTheBloodAxe says: Sep 15, 2010 11:24 PM

    That’s all fine and good Florio… but this has nothing to do with the Calvin Johnson TD.
    Why? Because unlike Louis Murphy and Lance Moore, Calvin Johnson always had complete control of the ball. He had complete control of it when he first caught it. He had complete control of it when both feet hit the ground. He had complete control of it when his butt hit the ground. He even had complete control of it when he was done hitting the gound and was sitting on the turf while the refs signaled the TD. He STILL had complete control of it when he rolled over and dropped the ball on the ground to celebrate.
    So, does this rule mean that any player catching the ball in the endzone has to hang on to it until he gets up after the play and the 6 points are officially on the scoreboard? If the NFL is still claiming the rule was correctly applied, that would appear to be the case… wouldn’t it.
    In that case, I can think of at least a couple of hundred TD’s that should have been called back over the last 13 months, but weren’t.
    Let’s face it, if the Lions hadn’t been the Lions, but had been, let’s say, the Steelers, Cowboys, Saints, Patriots, Giants, ect, ect… it would have been ruled a TD without questions. But they’re the Lions… so, not a TD.

  10. gm12086 says: Sep 15, 2010 11:24 PM

    That was a catch. Period. The referees are stupid and I can say that because I have been a baseball umpire for 11 years.

  11. Newguy says: Sep 15, 2010 11:24 PM

    How does this past weeks non catch differ from Polamolu’s interception of Manning in the ’05 playoffs?

  12. PJW says: Sep 15, 2010 11:25 PM

    I’m under the impression that if a player has possession outside the end zone and stretches to cross the plane, once the ball crosses the plane while in possession it becomes a dead ball.
    If a receiver catches the ball he must maintain possession to the whistle in or out of the end zone.
    I think the whole “second act” notion is being confused with crossing the plane vs. gaining possession.

  13. Big Stuff says: Sep 15, 2010 11:25 PM

    What the “second act” means is that Lance Moore didn’t drop the ball when he put it over the goal the first time, yet it was bobbled. He regained possession or actually “controlled” the ball (the second act or second time) and extended it over the goal. It was then kicked out of his hands, but by that time he had broken the plane.

  14. G-man says: Sep 15, 2010 11:25 PM

    I was being purposely facetious to show how ridiculous this whole thing is.

  15. phillyburdzfan says: Sep 15, 2010 11:26 PM

    “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.”
    Florio, you’re wrong on this one. “Second Act” refers to the player no longer being in the act of catching a pass. When Moore reached for the goal line, he was no longer in the act of catching the ball since he was now in the act of reaching for the goal line. “Second Act” wasn’t a direct cite of the rule; it was an explanation that the act of catching a pass was over because he was on to the infamous second act.
    C. Johnson was still in the act of making the catch according to the officials.
    That said, the rule needs some refining.

  16. FrankZappa says: Sep 15, 2010 11:27 PM

    Polian’s remarks aren’t confusing…remember that article on espn about the saints winning the super bowl before the game even happened?…it is staged, so Polian is obviously towing the company line if he is on board with the fix

  17. DaDaubs says: Sep 15, 2010 11:27 PM

    Regarding the Moore completion in the Super Bown:
    He caught the ball, hit the ground and lost possession of the ball. If I remember correctly, it was claimed the second act was when he briefly regained possession before the ball was kicked out.
    At least, that’s how I remember it explained during the telecast……

  18. ShruggingGalt says: Sep 15, 2010 11:33 PM

    Again, we continue this discussion.
    Here’s a good standard:
    If this catch was NOT in the endzone, would be considered a completion?
    No?
    Then it’s not, and it’s not a touchdown. Like the Raiders last year (watch the video again, he lost control before hitting the ground and the ball came out…an incomplete pass!)
    If it would be a completion, then it’s a touchdown.
    If you apply the standards that alot of people want to on the Megatron pass, well, there would be a lot more fumbles after the catch: they are currently considered an incomplete pass.

  19. tiv123 says: Sep 15, 2010 11:38 PM

    “…a late-game five-point lead entails a much different dynamic than a late-game seven-point lead.”
    Nope – same dynamic. Saints led the Colts by 7 in the Super Bowl and won. Saints led the Vikings by 5 the entire second half of their Week 1 match up and won. See how that works?
    Just because Reggie Bush was stripped of his Heisman Trophy does not mean that the Saints should be stripped of their Lombardi Trophy. The motto of the 2010 NFL season should be “Let It Go, Florio”. Concentrate on this season instead of harping on your disappointments of last year.

  20. Caldon says: Sep 15, 2010 11:39 PM

    I also can’t tell you how many times I have heard that a receiver taking a step after the catch is a “second act” and the difference between getting hit and fumbling and getting hit and dropping the pass.

  21. paperer says: Sep 15, 2010 11:41 PM

    This may be a small point, but since the Moore conversion resulted in a seven point lead, the Colts would have been able to tie the game with only one possession (touchdown plus two point conversion). As such, regardless of whether the lead was five or seven points, the Super Bowl was hanging in the balance on the Colts’ next drive, so the Colts wouldn’t have necessarily approached the drive differently had Moore not made the conversion.

  22. SF Saints Fan says: Sep 15, 2010 11:42 PM

    Florio,
    The major difference in the Lance Moore catch is that he caught the pass short of the goal line and, after catching the ball, he extended the ball beyond the goal line for the two point conversion. Only after the two points were scored, and the play was essentially over, did the Colts player knock the ball out of his hands. Get over it. The Saints won the game. What do you expect Polian to say, the Colts lost fair and square? You make fun of Polian (“Napolian”) every chance you get, but when he says something that makes the Saints Super Bowl win look something less than what it was, you think he walks on water. He doesn’t, and now you should know, that your Vikings don’t either……

  23. mkb says: Sep 15, 2010 11:45 PM

    Why is this so hard to understand? FinFan gets it, how come Florio doesn’t?
    He is looking in the rulebook for a so-called second act exception? huh? It isn’t written, because it is a common sense thing. Each “act” of a play falls under different rules. Passing, blocking, possession, etc. is an “act”. The Lance Moore play was explained as a second “act”, because the “act” of possession was complete. So now it becomes a determination of when is he down, does the ball come out before he is down (fumble), or does he cross the plane of the end zone. Possession is not in question any more on the second “act” because it was deemed complete in the first “act”.
    This is really not a difficult thing to understand. It was explained and explained to Florio in one of the links he posted to one of his previous articles…. and he is still looking through the rulebook for a so-called “second act”. wow

  24. BigBear123 says: Sep 15, 2010 11:45 PM

    “If you have it you don’t need it.
    If you need it you don’t have it.
    If you have it you need more of it.
    If you have more of it you don’t need less of it.
    You need it to get it,
    and you certainly need it to get more of it.
    But if you don’t already have any of it begin with
    you can’t get any of it to get started
    which means you really have no idea how to get it in the first place, do you?
    You can share it, sure.
    You can even stockpile it if you’d like.
    But you can’t fake it.
    Wanting it, needing it, wishing for it.
    The point is,
    if you’ve never had any of it, ever
    people just seem to know”

  25. thunkened says: Sep 15, 2010 11:48 PM

    Johnson shouldn’t have rolled over.. if he stayed on his back, touchdown. Seems like coaches need to understand that catching the ball in the endzone is less advantageous to catching it before the endzone or running it in.

  26. navigator322 says: Sep 15, 2010 11:54 PM

    Lets use common sense. Lance Moore had clear possession and broke the plane of the goal line. He didnt lose possession… the ball was kicked by the Colts CB after the catch and breaking of the plane of the goal line. Calvin Johnson had possesion of the ball and when rolling from the ground lost possesion. Florio is a whining chump who is pissed because his beloved Vikings got punked in the NFCCG…

  27. cobrala2 says: Sep 15, 2010 11:58 PM

    I’m livid and I don’t like any of the teams mentioned.

  28. moscabanzai says: Sep 15, 2010 11:59 PM

    I’m sorry, we’re saying that being down 5 instead of 7 in the Super Bowl means the pick would not have happened? “grasping at straws” has a new dictionary example. Please, someone get Dungy off the air

  29. vikingshuff says: Sep 15, 2010 11:59 PM

    So whats the difference if a player puts the ball out over the goalline as a second act (Lance Moore) or if they put the ball on the ground in celebration?? Or was the “second act” when he SWITCHED FROM TWO HANDS ON THE BALL TO ONE!!!…. Either way possession was obtained….this entire “process” crap is just an excuse….He caught the ball and had possession in the end zone…should be a simple TD…and yet the Bears luck out and win on a technicality and the Lions get screwed….not much has changed!

  30. Wallbangers says: Sep 16, 2010 12:01 AM

    Here’s my thought… and question…..At the point in time after Megatron had already caught the ball and after he got both feet down… and as he was falling to the ground, he still had a firm grasp of the ball in one hand … What would the call have been had a defender knock it out of his hand at that point ?…. Or, for that matter, at any point after both feet touched the ground…….the answer has to be a catch…therefore, touchdown !… I see that similar scenario happen every week all over the field !…At worst, it was a catch and a fumble.. had it occurred at the 40 yard line, you can bet the farm it would’ve been called exactly that…

  31. Mark0226 says: Sep 16, 2010 12:06 AM

    Is this your new soap box? Now that you got the overtime rule changed, and have given up on the tampering rules, this is your new issue to pontificated ad nausium over.

  32. Buffaloha says: Sep 16, 2010 12:07 AM

    Why do you keep focusing on the phrase “second act”? Pereira’s main point was “the ball is dead when it breaks the plane.” Polian also stated this: Moore “did complete the play” when putting the ball over the goal line. Anything that happens after the ball breaks the plane is irrelevant.

  33. BenRapistberger says: Sep 16, 2010 12:22 AM

    Holy Crap, no one likes what happened to the Lions but stop comparing it to Lance Moore’s play. Catching a pass while falling in the endzone, and catching a pass outside of the endzone then falling into the endzone have two different sets of requirements.
    If you catch a pass that is ALREADY in the endzone, the ‘Calvin Johnson’ rule applies.
    If you catch a pass and the ball has not yet broken the plane of the end zone (it doesn’t matter where the player’s feet or anything else are) then it follows the normal catch requirements, then once the ball breaks the plane, it’s a touchdown. Lance Moore’s football did bobble, but given that the catch was made outside of the endzone, that doesn’t negate the catch.
    All of this is STUPID, just change the god damn rule, there shouldn’t be different rules based on where the catch is made.

  34. Zaggs says: Sep 16, 2010 12:27 AM

    “Wouldn’t that make the “second act” his butt hitting the ground?”
    No. The idea of a second act they are referring to would mean a purposeful act. Johnson basically slamming the football might be considered such an act as no one can really say with a straight face Johnson lost control of the ball.

  35. bruce says: Sep 16, 2010 12:29 AM

    forget that stuff. I see no difference in this Frank Gore TD to that Lions TD. both catch it in the endzone and both lose it. Frank only gets his two feet down and like the Lions he tightly grips the ball to show he has control and then the Jags player knocks it out of his hands.
    http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/09000d5d814942a2/Smith-scrambles-throws-scores

  36. hockref says: Sep 16, 2010 12:31 AM

    Why do I feel like the only one who sees this issue the way I do.
    1. The ground can’t cause a fumble.
    Therefore
    2. The ground cannot make a catch.
    On the Calvin Johnson play
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSYDYI4F4xs
    He didn’t pick it up and spike it because he didn’t have the control to do it, he needed the ground to finish the catch.
    Incomplete pass and the rule makes sense.

  37. Colts18 says: Sep 16, 2010 12:33 AM

    People who hate the colts just want to hear it once, that peyton mannning didnt play a perfect game. they are pissed off that the blame went elsewhere. (as it should of) The oline has been a problem for 4 years now.

  38. Lurch says: Sep 16, 2010 12:36 AM

    This rates right up there with the infamous “Tuck Rule.”
    Leave it to the ‘suits’ to come up with crap like this.

  39. Schatt Maub says: Sep 16, 2010 12:39 AM

    Perhaps the most fundamental element of American sports is catching a ball. It’s the very first thing we all learn how to do as small children. So how come a bunch of seven year-olds playing in the street know what a catch is, but it takes rules and replays and clauses and league spokesmen and lawyers and second acts to figure out if an NFL player catches a ball?

  40. RexR#1 says: Sep 16, 2010 12:53 AM

    oh what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive

  41. marinofreakout says: Sep 16, 2010 12:54 AM

    dude there is no all-inclusive “second act exception.” the rule in question addresses, and provides different requirements for, a situation when a receiver crosses the plane and goes out of bounds, and when a receiver hits the ground in or out of the endzone.

  42. vbe says: Sep 16, 2010 12:54 AM

    Oh joy, now you’re going to beat this dead horse. Well, I suppose it’s ok for a horses ass to beat a dead horse.

  43. dEV says: Sep 16, 2010 1:08 AM

    What doesn’t make sense to me is the “going to the ground” part of it. Johnson landed on his butt. How can that NOT constitute “going to the ground?”

  44. Cerberus says: Sep 16, 2010 1:26 AM

    And last year during opening week all the Raider fans had this same discussion about the Louis Murphy catch . . . opps, I mean no catch just like Calvin Johnson. Yet last year, the following week had two similar plays that were deemed catches.
    It would seem the NFL either applies rules depending on which team they favor, or their officials don’t have a clue and the League continues to protect them.

  45. Steve W. says: Sep 16, 2010 1:41 AM

    The initial, and only sensible, explanation for the play is that the receiver had possession until the defender inadvertently kicked the ball out of his hands. Even that, however, leaves room for debate. If the receiver is required to maintain possession all the way through the act, then does the defender have the right to defense the catch even if the player is on the ground already? If the answer is yes, then the defender had every right to kick the ball out of the receiver’s hands. It would also mean that we would have to expect some really ugly and violent pass plays in the future. If the answer is no, then wouldn’t that have to imply that the play is already over, and that no more is needed for possession? I’ve never heard of any other ongoing play in which the defense wasn’t allowed to attempt to make a stop. This rule is simply the Tuck rule applied to receivers. It was the league’s way of trying to take any gray area or subjectivity out of officiating. Unfortunately, like in most cases, the attempt to rule out one gray area simply created a new one.

  46. robert ethen says: Sep 16, 2010 1:42 AM

    “Droppin’ the football was my clients ‘second act’ yer honor.”.

  47. spiritof66 says: Sep 16, 2010 1:45 AM

    That is a whole bunch of typing for saying very little. This article reads like a tech manual on screwing people over with a smile. Bill Polian is a crybaby that whines when anything affects his team like moving the umpires. Now in smug fassion Dirty Bill says “For those of us that know the rule, there’s not a lot of confusion.”
    Well Bill it is a $hi+ rule, and if it was Reggie Wayne in that situation you would be crying like the low rent bi+ch you are.
    This rule stinks as much as the Fu–(k rule you guys wipped out in the Raider-Patriots play off game.

  48. snnyjcbs says: Sep 16, 2010 1:51 AM

    You really know that they have screwed up the game with all these idiotic Rules when more time each week is talking about the rules and calls then the games.
    People know a TD when they see one, they know a fumble and a catch when they see one as well.
    Reading the rule the call was wrong, the receiver caught the ball and controlled the ball all the way to the ground as his knee and ass hit the ground with ball in control. The receiver with control of the ball then pushed it onto the ground still with control and as he got up released the ball.

  49. Testify says: Sep 16, 2010 1:55 AM

    This is the Luis Murphy rule….under section 324.5.2.1 paragraph 14a (errata) bylaw 24….no game winning td will be allowed for the raiders. See section 324.5.2.2 paragraph 13g bylaw 16 when the opposing qb fumbles the ball for a game winning turn of possession to the raiders this section shall govern and the fumble shall be overruled.

  50. bang2gongs says: Sep 16, 2010 2:10 AM

    It should be obvious that when the party of the first part disagrees with the party of the second part in addition to the party of the third part along with but without exception to the party of the fourth part, part of the party then partly comes apart.

  51. jcasey says: Sep 16, 2010 2:43 AM

    Polian is full of excuses. He points the finger at everyone except who deserves it. First it was Reggie Wayne’s fault. Then it was the O-line’s fault. Now it is the official’s fault. Truth is it was Manning’s fault. He threw the INT that cemented the game. They lost by 14 points, not 1. It is amazing to me that every mistake that Brett Favre makes is magnified, but Manning’s mistakes are excused and ignored. It’s going to be great when history repeats itself and the Super Bowl LOSER does not even make the playoffs!!!

  52. REGGIE BUSH says: Sep 16, 2010 2:52 AM

    mike…saints won the superbowl…get over it!!!no amount of your idiotic rants is going to change that fact

  53. iTorrey says: Sep 16, 2010 3:12 AM

    This entire thing is nonsense. He didn’t catch the ball.
    Just like when a receiver is going over the middle and catches the ball and before he can even take a step he is leveled and drops the ball, the pass is incomplete. This happens every single weekend. It’s because he didn’t control the ball and make a football move like take three steps in a controlled fashion.
    Johnson went up for the ball, caught it in the air, his feet hit the ground, however this isn’t a catch yet, he hasn’t established himself, he’s still in the ‘first move’. This first move continues as he falls to the ground, reaching with his arms forward to try and make sure he has the ball and finally as he completely hits the ground he turns his hand and the ball bounces out of it and he comes to rest.
    Had he come to rest on his feet and then was hit by a player and then did this, it would have been a catch. You have to look at the entire thing. He never possesses it at rest.
    The same rule applies to the sideline. If you go up and get the ball, drag your toes then fall on your face out of bounds and the ball comes out and hits the ground, it’s an incomplete pass. It’s not as if you can just tap your feet and have the ball in your hands and then go out of bounds and drop it and have that be a catch. Just the same, if you tap your feet and go out of bounds and the ball slips from your hand and you reach down and grab it, that’s not a catch because you didn’t catch it in bounds, you came to rest with the ball while out of bounds.
    Johnson simply never came to rest with the ball. I also don’t believe for one second he was using the ball to push up off the ground with or was attempting some weird spike. Look at the video, the ball hits and takes a weird bounce out of his hands. It wasn’t planned, and he certainly didn’t mean to do it. So I think that argument is a red haring.

  54. aliowls19 says: Sep 16, 2010 3:57 AM

    Landing on ur hip back or whatever while having possesion of the football inbounds after one foot has touched the ground inbounds beforehand is ruled a catch and the play is dead if the player was touched of course so in my books chicago got a cheap win that won’t really help there playoffs push neway

  55. Harbs is the Man! says: Sep 16, 2010 5:35 AM

    So basically the rule is if you have 2 feet in bounds and possession outside of the endzone, break the plane, regardless of retaining possession after crossing the line, it is an automatic TD. Given that, when the ball broke the plane of the endzone on the pass and CJ caught it with 2 feet down in the endzone, possession has been established and the ball clearly broke the plane, but no TD. Make tons of sense. Detroit, you got screwed hard. This is more bogus than the Brady tuck rule.

  56. Little Tommy says: Sep 16, 2010 6:13 AM

    Ridiculous…now you need a lawyer to watch an NFL game. This is all a bunch of crap.

  57. Waltkowalski says: Sep 16, 2010 6:38 AM

    Fellas, the Fix was in. There’s a lot of money that changed hands when the original touchdown call was reversed by the referee. Arguing over whether or not it was a catch is like arguing over whether or not the image of old Abe Lincoln is on Mount Rushmore. Trust your eyes.

  58. afiresnake says: Sep 16, 2010 7:01 AM

    Florio, turn your polemic yada yada down a notch and get the facts straight (I’ll promise if you listen to that from time to time, page hits won’t go down. People are not looking for posts that contain hot garbage where even Florio thinks it’s garbage what he just wrote).
    Facts: Lance Moore in SB was a catch, the ball crossed the line and then the defender kicked it out of the hands. Which is illegal by the defender. That’s a bullet proof 2 point conversion and a halluvalot different than Megatron. Though a clear catch, the guy to blame is Johnson, since he started celebrating while rolling over instead of completing the catch and then celebrating.
    I’m sure coach Schwartz made Johnson realize that but for his childish egotrip, we wouldn’t be here generating page hits and dollars for Florio.

  59. bubba says: Sep 16, 2010 7:08 AM

    The difference between the Calvin Johnson and Lance Moore catch is the teams they play for. Everyone that is not confused knows that the officials “gave” the Saints the NFC Championship game and Super Bowl. The officials will call what they want to benefit the team the NFL wants to see win. These are the worst officials of any sport.

  60. SDW2001 says: Sep 16, 2010 7:17 AM

    What a poorly written article. He wrote “becomes” instead of “before” at one point, then wrote “Polian” when it sounds like he meant…I don’t know…Manning?
    Whatever. I think this: The Johnson catch is open to interpretation based on how the rule is written at present. Personally, I say it’s a catch. It’s clearly a catch. The SB conversion was good in my opinion, because he caught the ball, then crossed the plane, only to lose the ball as he hit the ground. The play stops when the ball breaks the plane.
    And yes, I think the Johnson rule should be changed.

  61. JerryDignan says: Sep 16, 2010 7:35 AM

    Of course Polian is going to say that….the rule hurt his team.
    Why don’t you ask a Raiders fan if the Tuck Rule exists (which it still does).

  62. neilp says: Sep 16, 2010 7:36 AM

    You know they have screwed around with this rule so much its beyond a joke. What was wrong with two feet down ball under control, touchdown? Even more so in the end zone where as long as the ball breaks the plane even by the smallest of margins and it is supposedly a score? (Wes Welker vs the Bengals)
    Maybe if that had been Manning to Wayne… no score instead of Stafford to Johnson there would be more notice taken!
    Who am I kidding Bill Polian getting a rule changed to suit his team… ludicrous!!!

  63. turbodog says: Sep 16, 2010 7:52 AM

    bottom line is both were catches

  64. LionsGettingBeastly says: Sep 16, 2010 7:55 AM

    Not sure what is more disgusting – the rule, the interpretation of the rule in this case, or people like Rich Eisen and the NFL coaches who are trying to cover the NFL’s arse.

  65. ForrestGump says: Sep 16, 2010 8:14 AM

    Stupid rule.
    Why is it if you’re diving into the endzone and the ball “breaks the plane”, time & space magically freeze and the play is ruled a TD whether the player maintains control after that or not.
    But if you’re IN the endzone you have to go through additional maneuvers AFTER you made the catch, maintained control, and hit the ground?

  66. Linejudge says: Sep 16, 2010 8:17 AM

    @ Bronco4life
    The ground can not cause a fumble (unless you go to the ground untouched and fumble), but the ground CAN cause an incompletion.
    ————————————————–
    Just b/c his butt hit the ground doesn’t end anything, he is still in the act of going to the ground. He must maintain possession until he comes to rest.
    iTorrey’s explanation is pretty damn close to dead on right. The only time you can go to the ground and lose possession of the ball is in the EZ or the field of play; if you go to the ground lose the ball and regain possession prior to the ball hitting the ground, completion/TD. If you lose possession and the ball hits the ground incomplete (see Johnson, Calvin circa 9/12/10). As iTorrey says, this rule does not apply while going out of bounds, if you lose possession and then regain it at the sidelines or endline (back of EZ), no catch.
    No one got screwed here people. This really does suck for the Lions b/c all CJ had to do was not flop around like a rag doll and drop the ball. It appeared to me that he easily could have either rolled or stayed on his back instead of immediately jumping up in the air to celebrate. Or he could have flipped the ball in the air.
    Also the argument of breaking the plane of the GL is off base too. That applies when the ball is in player possession OUTSIDE of the EZ, not from a pass.
    It is really funny that sooooo many people don’t UNDERSTAND the rule. I can’t argue with someone for disagreeing, but I would like to see someone craft a better alternative. Just b/c 80% or more of the people out there think it was a TD, doesn’t mean it was a TD or catch. That only means that a lot of f-ing people don’t understand the rules. Get over it, move on and shut up

  67. Nogard13 says: Sep 16, 2010 8:20 AM

    Here’s the difference between the Lance Moore (LM) catch and Calvin Johnson’s (CJ) non-catch: Lance Moore had possession OUTSIDE of the end zone so the minute the ball breaks the plane, with possession established, it’s a TD (or a 2-pt conversion, in this case).
    CJ was still in the act of catching the ball so possession was never established, by rule. Had CJ been 1mm outside the goal line, fallen on his ass with possession, and stretched the ball over the goal line, then dropped the ball, it would’ve been a TD because the ball crossed the plane while the receiver had possession.
    Does that clear it up?

  68. Duan says: Sep 16, 2010 8:23 AM

    @ G-man says:
    September 15, 2010 11:07 PM
    Just curious–Didn’t the “catch” occur when he got control of the ball five feet in the air and then when his feet hit the ground? Wouldn’t that make the “second act” his butt hitting the ground? Wouldn’t that, then, make the “third act” the action of rolling over and then placing the ball on the ground?
    =================================
    Excellent point, I agree wholeheartedly with you as a true football fan

  69. BernieMac says: Sep 16, 2010 8:25 AM

    They are using “second act” as a way to say that he already showed control of the ball. when you have control of the ball and that ball breaks the goal line the play is over! In this case neither of those things happened. Incomplete pass is the result. Plain and simple.

  70. awdlmd says: Sep 16, 2010 8:27 AM

    This convolution over possession is the result of excessive use of replay. Possession is best judged at live speed, when you start looking at super slow motion you get into this hair splitting. Make possession a non-reviewable judgement call and limit replay to in bounds/out of bounds and fumble/down.

  71. Hound Dog says: Sep 16, 2010 8:28 AM

    Another example of the League controlling the outcome of games. Any bet that if Farve had thrown that ball to Driver it would be called “no catch”. Not a chance!

  72. TheDPR says: Sep 16, 2010 8:39 AM

    Polian was careful. There really isn’t a second act in possession. When you make a “second act” then possession is over.
    Possession is the first act, and that is all the rule applies to.
    Possession is seen to be complete when a receiver makes a second act.
    This is not clearly written in the rule but that is how it has been applied.
    There is no problem at all if the receiver is on his feet and running. He catches the ball, then turning and running upfield ends the “possession” part because it is a “second act.”
    But if the receiver is going to the ground the rule is fubar.
    It needs to be reexamined and reworded.

  73. Douchebaggery says: Sep 16, 2010 8:48 AM

    G-Man, you are retarded. You’ve read all these articles all week long and failed to learn a single thing. Let me help you:
    “If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass…” He went to the ground, right? So the normal standard of getting two feet in bounds is no longer sufficient to establish possession. “…he must maintain control of the ball *AFTER* he touches the ground….” He failed to do this. It’s clear as day, I truly don’t understand why people are unable to see this.
    Maybe you need to watch it at regular speed, not slowed down, because he hits the ground and the ball comes out immediately. He doesn’t roll over and place the ball on the ground, the ball hits the ground and pops out of his hand.

  74. wiley16350 says: Sep 16, 2010 9:21 AM

    There is no need for a second act clause in the rule because by the very definition of second act it means that the first act has completed. And if the first act is completed then it means the player maintained possession of the ball completely through the first act. Which is what the rule basically says, a person must maintain a catch through the process of falling to the ground (till the completion of that action). So once he makes another football move (action), he has completed the first football move (action) and therefore it would be a catch. The question is, was Johnsons placement of the ball on the ground (when he lost it) an action enforced by his will or forced by the current momentum of his fall. The refs felt it was by the momentum of his fall and therefore it becomes an incomplete pass. That is debatable, but the point is there is no need for a second act clause because the rule defines that the catch must be maintained through the completion of an action.

  75. pelion_panther says: Sep 16, 2010 9:22 AM

    There is one thing that’s really bugging me about this whole thingand its something that no one is talking about.
    Calvin Johnson catches the ball in the end zone. He is touched by Chicago Bears #35. He the goes down in bounds in the endzone on his butt, plus one hand, plus his left knee. This is what we like to call down by contact. The play should be over at this point. TOUCHDOWN. I’m not a Bears fan or a Lions fan, but bull crap is bull crap and this whole situation stinks.

  76. what about bob says: Sep 16, 2010 9:41 AM

    I maybe old (ok I’m old) ,but what ever happened to possesion and two feet down? I’ve wached this play and all this second act crap is stupid. What I saw was a catch and two feet touching the ground WTF. I’m not a Lions fan, but this a great example of taken technogy and rule’s to far…. TD

  77. Chip says: Sep 16, 2010 9:47 AM

    The truth is Johnson was too worried about celebrating and acting like he won the super bowl instead of completing the catch. No TD.

  78. jnolte01 says: Sep 16, 2010 10:07 AM

    @ pelion_panther
    Completely agree, if that play happens at the 5, that is a catch and he is down by contact. Other than being outside of the endzone and then breaking the plane, rules should be applied consistently for all catches.

  79. jediwrstlr says: Sep 16, 2010 10:14 AM

    ANOTHER example of the NFL determining the winners who they want. NFL is rigged. Superbowls, games….its all rigged….Hey anyone watch the end of the Chiefs and Chargers????Anyone else see Darren Sproles pushed to the ground when the ball was in the air???? No flag….the REFS are paid to help determine the outcome of the game, and to help steer it to a better match for ratings. If they dont, blow uouts occur on nationaly televised games, and people dont like watching blow outs(unless it is their team winning), so they change the channel. It has all been about money …..I have been preaching this for years.

  80. Codebeard says: Sep 16, 2010 10:23 AM

    “Second act” isn’t a true rule exception. By “second act” they mean that the player is demonstrating that the process of catch is complete and the player is moving onto a different phase by performing a football move. Let it go.
    As to CJ, the fact that he let the ball go too early cost him. Quite simply, he left his fate in the hands of the referees by not clearly demonstrating that he held onto the ball throughout the whole process of the catch. No, his butt hitting the ground did not end it. He was continuing to fall and roll out of the fall was a result of 1) his own momentum towards the back of the end zone and 2) contact with Zachary Bowman. Without performing a second act (spike, showing the ball to the ref, etc.) he’s leaving it vague as to whether or not he completed the “process of the catch”.

  81. scra22 says: Sep 16, 2010 10:23 AM

    The problem isn’t the rule, but the so-called “second act” exception. It was applied to give the Saints a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIV when receiver Lance Moore caught a pass at the goal line while falling, pushed the ball over the goal line while falling, and lost possession of the ball become coming to rest.
    This is a very wrong description of the play. Tweaked so you can make your “controversial” point, I’m sure. Lance Moore did catch the ball while falling, and while on the ground (at rest), grasped TWO hands firmly around the ball and held it above the ground establishing possession. He never “lost” possession of the ball, and wasn’t going to lose possession because he had a firm grip – it was kicked out by a defender.
    The rule states the receiver must maintain possession of the ball after falling to the ground. You ignore the part of the rule that states that if the receiver loses control after falling to the ground and the ball touches the ground, it’s incomplete. But;
    If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.
    1) Moore had fallen to the ground: Check
    2) Moore established possession of the ball before IT touched the ground: Check
    3) Moore had possession because he was never going to drop or lose the ball – the only reason it touched the ground is because it was kicked out of his hands.
    There was no “regaining” control by Johnson because he touched the ball to the ground immediately. Moore NEVER touched the ball to the ground, held it firmly above the ground (establishing possession), before it was kicked out of his hands by a Colt.
    “But don’t expect the league to admit in a clear and understandable fashion the fact that, during the climax to the 2009 season, a rule that really isn’t a rule helped the Saints rule over the rest of the league.”
    Clap. Clap. Clap. Really, this is a new low, even for PFT. I know this site lives to stir up controversy, but trying to act like this 2-point conversion, whether called correctly or not, is what gave the Saints the title (thus stirring up the tin foil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists that live on this board) is quite impressive. Way to go.
    Fact: The Saints won by 14 points, not 2.
    Fact: Whether down by 5 or 7, the Colts needed a touchdown.
    Fact: The Saints outplayed the Colts and won the game fair and square.
    This site is such a joke sometimes. But I guess the joke’s on me since I even bothered to respond.

  82. RagnarTheBloodAxe says: Sep 16, 2010 10:24 AM

    I can’t believe there are a bunch of morons here claiming that Calvin Johnson didn’t catch that ball.
    Says a lot about how stupid and biased the NFL fan base has become…

  83. Canned Gravy says: Sep 16, 2010 10:24 AM

    G-man says:
    September 15, 2010 11:07 PM
    Just curious–Didn’t the “catch” occur when he got control of the ball five feet in the air and then when his feet hit the ground? Wouldn’t that make the “second act” his butt hitting the ground? Wouldn’t that, then, make the “third act” the action of rolling over and then placing the ball on the ground?
    ___________________________________
    Exactly.
    If he sits there on his ass and spikes the ball…..it’s a TD then. But, because he tries to get up with it quickly and pops out, it’s a no catch.
    No one gives a rat’s ass what the league comes up with…it’s a catch and the Lions got raped. For the record, I laugh at the Lions. (and the Bears).

  84. Burritto says: Sep 16, 2010 10:27 AM

    Finfan 68 is 100% correct.
    The explanation is so simple on this that I’ve come to the point where I think that people who are arguing about this are intentionally acting confused just for the sake of argument.
    The ONLY thing that connects the Moore play and the Megatron play is that Moore’s catch looked like an incompletion but wasn’t, whereas Johnson’s catch looked like a completion but wasn’t.
    You can argue that the rule is broken, but that doesn’t matter until the next competition committee meeting. Until then, find a better example to compare to what happened in the Lions game. As the rules see it, the two catches were very different.

  85. scra22 says: Sep 16, 2010 10:34 AM

    bubba says:
    September 16, 2010 7:08 AM
    The difference between the Calvin Johnson and Lance Moore catch is the teams they play for. Everyone that is not confused knows that the officials “gave” the Saints the NFC Championship game and Super Bowl. The officials will call what they want to benefit the team the NFL wants to see win. These are the worst officials of any sport.
    ==============
    If you really believe that, then why do you watch football? Do you have a favorite team? If so, what is the point since it’s fixed anyway?

  86. officialsrmorons says: Sep 16, 2010 10:37 AM

    Regarding the Lance Moore play, I agree that once the ball crossed the plane the play was over but because of the comments of Pereira stating that a reciever catching the ball going to the ground must maintain possesion until he comes to a complete stop otherwise it is incomplete, you must compare the two because the ball was out of their hands before either came to a complete stop.. actually, I don’t think CJ came to a complete stop until he was on the sideline.
    Point I am making is Lance Moore scored the 2pts and CJ scored the TD. If Pereira says you must come to a complete stop with possession then there IS a contradiction between the LM and CJ catches.

  87. faulkn22 says: Sep 16, 2010 10:47 AM

    Polian is a fool. 80%+ of the fanbase says it was a TD and you need to change the rule. You are out of touch with reality as they come…… unless of course it pisses off Peyton Manning, then you do tricks like his lap dog.

  88. gfunk says: Sep 16, 2010 10:50 AM

    So let me get this straight.
    If he catches the ball on the 1 yard line, lands on his feet, but hits the ground in the end zone, the ball crosses the plane as he goes to the ground, ball hits the ground in the end zone and comes lose, it is a TD because the play is dead when the ball crosses the plane of the end zone.
    Huh?!?!

  89. Murgen says: Sep 16, 2010 10:55 AM

    We just need to go back to the old school rules. You catch the ball, you gotta hold onto it after hitting the ground. How hard is that? His butt hit the ground, therefore he was down by contact. TD
    The idea of the ball crossing the goal line is a TD even if you fumble it a milisecond later is dumb. The same rules on the field should apply in the end zone. You fumble in the end zone, you don’t get a freaking TD out of it.
    But, the NFL wants high scoring games. So that’s why.

  90. 8man says: Sep 16, 2010 10:57 AM

    gm12086 says:
    September 15, 2010 11:24 PM
    That was a catch. Period. The referees are stupid and I can say that because I have been a baseball umpire for 11 years.
    ————————————————
    Ditto! And I’ve never officiated any sport in my life and I can say it.
    NFL officating has always been somewhat of a crap factory. Stupid rules requiring the stars to align before a play is valid don’t help.
    The Patriots are my team, and I still can’t believe how pissed I am about this and what they did to the Lions.

  91. hockref says: Sep 16, 2010 11:08 AM

    @RagnarTheBloodAxe
    Anyone arguing that the Johnson play was a catch is simply to lazy of a fan to actually watch the replay and wants credit no matter what they do.
    “Look mom I made cookies!”
    “Yes you did dear but since you haven’t turned on the oven or taken them out of the bowl their just ingredients on the counter”.
    Take the time to watch the plays then spout off on them.
    To all the “its a conspiracy group”; post your email address I have a great deal on tin foil hats an you will want them before Sunday!

  92. StevieMo says: Sep 16, 2010 11:12 AM

    You guys are making this much too complicated. It’s simple.
    Favored-nation teams (Patriots, Colts, Steelers, Saints, etc.) = Touchdown
    Non-favored nation teams (Raiders, Lions, Bucs, Bengals, etc.) = Incomplete pass.

  93. Vee says: Sep 16, 2010 11:45 AM

    As I recall, the Colts would still have needed a touchdown to win, not a field goal. Therefore, their game plan was completely unaffected by either a 5 or 7 point lead.
    Also;
    FrankZappa says:
    Polian’s remarks aren’t confusing…remember that article on espn about the saints winning the super bowl before the game even happened?…it is staged, so Polian is obviously towing the company line if he is on board with the fix
    ==================================
    Gee Frank, please tell us who the 2nd gunman was that really shot Kennedy was, and where they’re hiding that alien space craft in area 51, and show us those original negatives of Big Foot and Lock Ness?

  94. Linejudge says: Sep 16, 2010 9:40 PM

    @ gm12086
    So you are a baseball umpire. When you work a game do you apply the rules, or do you apply what you think the rules should be? B/C you and every other idiot posting that CJ made a catch is flat dead wrong and/or misinformed and/or ignorant and/or blind and/or drunk and/or high and/or too lazy to actually know the rules
    @ fastfred21
    You are a waste of oxygen and an internet connection.

  95. ejmat says: Sep 19, 2010 8:41 AM

    The Lance Moore catch was in fact a TD. Calvin Johnson’s catch was also a TD. The fact is he was up in the air when catching the ball. One foot hit the ground in bounds. The second foot hit the ground in bounds. His butt hit the ground in bounds and his other hand hit the ground in bounds. All of this happened prior to the ball touching the ground in clear possession by Calvin Johnson.
    What does crack me up is how was that not a catch but the ball that the Saints WR caught last year in the NFCCG right before the winning FG is a catch. Baffling!
    Officiating in the NFL downright sucks. I don’t blame the refs. Just poor people in charge that continuously condone it and make excuses for them. Mike Periera was the worst at trying to explain bad calls. Example: One game the ref supposedly had a “bad angle” when lining the ball up with the 1st down marker. How does that happen?
    At least Ed Hocules will come out and admit when he screws up and the only thing he gets is punished. Whereas the other refs will not man up to admit anything and they just keep going as usual.
    When will the refs begin getting fined for getting calls wrong after a replay or even something as easy as lining the ball up with a first down marker? When will they be fined for taunting players (i.e. throwing a flag directly at players)?
    The refs make a lot of money to work 17 – 20 Sundays a season. They need to get things right especially with the luxury of having instant replay.

  96. the immortal SCURDS says: Sep 19, 2010 11:37 AM

    the simple test is this: if that play was brady to moss, they could do it ten thousand times for ten thousand tlouchdowns, but it was detroit spoiling the bears home opener, so no way could the league allow it. it is an example of subtle game fixing that goes on in the nfl. polamalu scored a touchdown that covered the spread and it wasnt allowed because “it didnt matter”.
    this detroit player caught the ball, brought it down, got one then 2 feet down in the end zone, rotated, took a step again, and reached the ball to the ground to steady himself 4 acts after it was a touchdown. the lions are not allowed to win in chicago when the bears are holding their season opener. simple, obvious, no other explanation.

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