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Pereira’s assault on Calvin Johnson rule overlooks his responsibility for it

Image (1) bill-parcells-mike-pereira.jpg for post 78583 AP

After reading the item from MDS on Saturday (yeah, I read the stuff the other guys write . . . sometimes) regarding Mike Pereira’s take on the Calvin Johnson rule and then reading Pereira’s column on the issue, I feel compelled to chime in.  And before going any farther, I need to say that I think Pereira was a great V.P. of officiating, and that he routinely supplied excellent candor and detail during the “Official Review” segments on NFL Network’s Total Access.  I’ve met him, I’ve talked to him, and I personally like him.

Of course, that’s all a preface to the reality that I’m about to criticize him.

How can Pereira question the league’s handling of the catch/no-catch rule without acknowledging his own responsibility for the confusion surrounding one of the most complicated provisions in the book?  By explaining that the “‘is-it-a-catch?’ controversy occurred in the 2010 season opener between [Calvin] Johnson’s Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears,” Pereira creates the impression that the issue previously wasn’t a problem, ignoring that inconsistent and vague application of the rule, on Pereira’s watch, undermined several outcomes during the 2009 season.

Indeed, our discussions with several league insiders have caused us to conclude that the “second-act exception,” which has been used on several occasions to override the failure of a receiver to keep possession upon hitting the ground, was a product of Pereira, not the rule book.   The most overlooked, but most significant, application of the rule came during Super Bowl XLIV, when Saints receiver Lance Moore caught a pass at the goal line while falling, reached the ball across the plane while falling, hit the ground and lost possession, and ultimately earned the two-point conversion for the Saints.  Pereira, working his final game as NFL V.P. of officiating, had this to say:  “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.”

But the rule book says nothing about a second act.  The rule says only this:  “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.”

The Competition Committee, though not yet willing to make significant changes to the rule, apparently plans to codify Pereira’s second-act exception, sort of.  The proposed rule will acknowledge a completed catch if the receiver, while falling, has enough time to perform a “football act” — another phrase for a “second act.”  The additional confusion comes from the fact that the player doesn’t have to actually complete a “football act”; he only needs to have enough time to do so.

Pereira’s right.  This proposed change will create more confusion, and lead to more inconsistency in the application of the rule.  But Pereira should at least admit that he dumped several pounds of bad meat into this rancid stew.

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18 Responses to “Pereira’s assault on Calvin Johnson rule overlooks his responsibility for it”
  1. jecates says: Mar 20, 2011 2:06 PM

    The second act is implicit in the current rule. If a player performs a second act, then he did not “[go] to the ground in the act of catching a pass”. Why is this so hard to understand?

  2. thestrategyexpert says: Mar 20, 2011 2:15 PM

    You are just playing politics. He was a TERRIBLE VP of Officiating. He did a bad job on his breakdowns of controversial plays and the NFL rulebook is loaded with illogical junk that needs a major overhaul. He’s very responsible for the complaints that we have in almost every single football game that is played today. People like him are the reason why there are so many complainers, cause they can’t figure out how to solve the hiccups in the logical structure of the game that determine fairness and ensure that both teams have little to no chance of getting screwed any given Sunday. He did an F-graded job while serving his post.

  3. sterilizecromartie says: Mar 20, 2011 2:26 PM

    How about we keep the rule as-is and just implement another rule: Players should hold onto game winning TDs like they are holding onto a newborn baby, as opposed to slamming the football off the ground like they are trying to smash a pumpkin on mischief night.

    Calvin Johnson got off so easy on this play. We should all be ripping on him instead of ripping on the rules, officials, etc.

  4. mcwest1 says: Mar 20, 2011 2:38 PM

    I still think the better question is “when is the play over?”

    I agree with Pereira in that if a receiver has possession of the ball when the ball breaks the plane, it’s a score. End of play.

    Now if a receiver is attempting to gain control of the ball while crossing the goal line, then the play isn’t over until either the receiver gains control of the ball, or it’s knocked out of his hands before he gains control.

  5. samwadd5 says: Mar 20, 2011 2:47 PM

    Why rip Calvin Johnson. He has never complained about the call.

  6. mcwest1 says: Mar 20, 2011 2:52 PM

    Pereira, working his final game as NFL V.P. of officiating, had this to say: “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.”

    Too much is being read into the words “second act” Pereira could’ve said the same thing omitting the words ” and performs a second act” Although, according to the rule book he would be wrong. As the rule book 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.”

    Why should a receiver stretching the ball and breaking the plane (providing he has control) be different than a running back stretching the ball and breaking the plane? Once a running back breaks the plane with the ball it’s a TD. Even if he loses control of the ball. After the ball breaks the plane, it’s a TD and the play is over.

    Make it the same for all ball carriers and maybe that will eliminate some of the confusion.

  7. freebird2011 says: Mar 20, 2011 2:58 PM

    There’s an easier way to do it.

    If the player goes down in the endzone, voluntarily or otherwise, if he has the ball, it’s a catch. If he doesn’t, it’s not.

    In the Calvin Johnson case, it would have been a catch because his knee hit the ground before the ball every touched the ground.

    Easy rule, simple application.

    Indeed, why should it be any different than when a runner attempts to cross the goal line? On goal line plays, we look at whether the player was down before the ball crossed the goal line and all it has to do is cross for a second. If it crosses the plane before he’s down, it’s a TD even if he subsequently loses control.

  8. sterilizecromartie says: Mar 20, 2011 3:19 PM

    @samwadd

    We rip him because he smashed the game winning TD off the ground instead of just holding onto it. HE cost them the game, not the officials and not the rulebook.

    We all made fun of rookie Plaxico Burress when he got up after a first down catch and spiked the ball without being down by contact, which resulted in a fumble. How is Calvin Johnson’s situation any different? Neither of them knew the proper rules and it cost their teams.

  9. Deb says: Mar 20, 2011 3:26 PM

    Let’s stop stewing, to use your metaphor, over this one helping of slop and look at the bigger picture.

    Does the NFL really believe it’s okay for a bad call to stand because a coach ran out of challenges? Because a home team didn’t show a replay in time for opposing coaches to challenge? Or because a ref went under a hood but refused to reverse himself out of ego–or incompetence?

    Please.

    The Great and Powerful Wizards of the NFL snatched the idea of red flags from the USFL. It’s not a tradition that goes back to the Canton Bulldogs. Enough already. Let’s get the calls right. Dump flags and hoods–and overblown rules like the one that shafted the Lions–and institute a booth review system.

  10. Kave Krew says: Mar 20, 2011 3:33 PM

    You learn something new everyday…….I never knew that it was Mike Pereira getting the total meltdown by Parcells in that picture. Always loved that picture and now it’s even more special.

  11. tremoluxman says: Mar 20, 2011 4:08 PM

    This whole ‘catch-no catch’ controversy is BS. Why not pattern it after the rule for an RB? If he has possession and control of the ball on the way to the ground, the ground can’t cause a fumble. Simple. End of play. The ball is dead.

    Why not the same for a receiver? If he catches the ball and maintains possession and control of it all the way to the ground, then it is a catch even if the ground jars the ball loose. It’s a completion. End of play.

    It’s easy enough to tell if the receiver is juggling the ball on the way to the ground or if the ground aids the reception. They’re making a big deal out of nothing, IMHO.

  12. drbob117 says: Mar 20, 2011 4:51 PM

    Just go back to the way the rule was the first 80 years or so that the game was played….if you have possession when your butt, arm, leg, shoulder, etc. hits the ground, it’s a catch, just like the play is dead if you are a RB and any of that stuff happens, it’s not a fumble. A guy shouldn’t have to roll around three times, pray over it and say “May I?” Yes, the ball WILL pop out of some WRs arm after he’s down and make it LOOK like he didn’t catch it, but he did, he possessed it and went to the ground with it; everything else is just changing the rules to make it tougher to get a complete pass.

  13. johnnycash19 says: Mar 20, 2011 5:08 PM

    How is Calvin Johnson’s situation any different?
    ———————

    You can’t be serious. Well for one, Calvin Johnson’s catch was in the Endzone. Second, Calvin had control of the ball. Three, Calvin fought for the ball with a Bears defender, I’m pretty sure there was some contact there (legal contact).

    Comparing Calvin Johnson’s catch to Burress’ fumble is just stupid.

  14. dewalt2990 says: Mar 20, 2011 5:42 PM

    What ever happened to common sense? I didn’t know football’s rules needed a lawyer to……..nevermind.

  15. r8ders18 says: Mar 20, 2011 6:33 PM

    it’s a completed pass if the team making the catch
    is new england or indy and also any team that plays the raiders. remember THE REFS ARE THE REAL 12th MAN

  16. Kave Krew says: Mar 20, 2011 8:56 PM

    @r8ders18

    F’n A….you are the first reader to correctly interpret the “2nd act”…..good job.

  17. juanhughjazz says: Mar 20, 2011 9:15 PM

    had they wanted to, the switch from holding the ball with two hands to one would have been considered a second act. as far as reviews go, the booth review is a fantastic idea. or limit the coaches to two wrong reviews per half. why should you use up a challenge when you were right?

  18. Canyonero says: Mar 20, 2011 10:30 PM

    Judicial activism!

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