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Lions’ Burleson scores, NFL still can’t figure out Calvin Johnson rule

Calvin Johnson AP

The NFL’s officials still can’t get the Calvin Johnson rule straight, but this time the Detroit Lions won’t be complaining.

Lions receiver Nate Burleson caught a pass in the end zone, stumbled to the ground as he crossed the end line and then dropped the ball as he hit the ground in the fourth quarter of today’s game against the 49ers. The official on the field, who was in perfect position to see the whole play, ruled it incomplete, saying Burleson didn’t complete his catch as he went to the ground.

That’s the “Calvin Johnson rule” that we all learned about last year, when Johnson caught a pass in the end zone in Week One against the Bears and dropped the ball as he went to the ground. That pass was ruled a touchdown for the Lions on the field but overturned on replay.

But even though Lions coach Jim Schwartz obviously knows the Calvin Johnson rule all too well, he decided to challenge the ruling on the pass to Burleson anyway — and this time, Schwartz got the replay review he wanted, as referee Mike Carey overturned the ruling on the field and gave Burleson a touchdown.

That’s great for the Lions, but bad for the 49ers — and bad for everyone who still wants to know what, exactly, constitutes a catch in this league.

One person who still isn’t sure is former head of NFL officiating Mike Pereira, who wrongly predicted on the FOX broadcast of the game that Carey would let the incomplete pass stand — and then said after Carey had overturned the ruling that he was glad Carey had done so. Pereira seemed to be just as confused as all the rest of us.

The bottom line is that no one in the NFL understands this rule. Not the players, not the coaches, not the fans, and not even the officials. The NFL has got to figure out a way to define what constitutes a catch, and do it in a way that actually makes sense.

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24 Responses to “Lions’ Burleson scores, NFL still can’t figure out Calvin Johnson rule”
  1. xxwhodatxx says: Oct 16, 2011 4:10 PM

    Good for the lions but sickening none the less.

  2. your6ringsaremeaninglessnow says: Oct 16, 2011 4:12 PM

    It was TD, shouldn’t have been initially ruled incomplete. He made a football move after the catch, then released the ball.

  3. jdmp86 says: Oct 16, 2011 4:12 PM

    Refs couldn’t figure it out, Mike Periera couldn’t figure it out. Change the damn rule already. When it looks like a touchdown to everyone watching it must be a touchdown. On top of that Mike Carey is has been screwing up calls all day.

  4. 13curtjp says: Oct 16, 2011 4:15 PM

    Here’s an idea…if the receiver catches it and both feet are on the ground, that’s a catch…pretty simple

  5. forthelove says: Oct 16, 2011 4:19 PM

    These Lions receivers need to tuck that ball into the chest and eliminate any questions. If Burleson tucks the ball into the chest and goes to the ground it’s a catch no problem, waiving it around in one hand and then using both hands (with the ball in one of them) to break a fall to the ground just makes unnecessary questions. Four point control, secure the football!

  6. contract says: Oct 16, 2011 4:28 PM

    Go back to the old rule … control + 2 points of contact with the ground in the field of play = catch

    Simple.

  7. jesterrecordz says: Oct 16, 2011 4:37 PM

    the calvin johnson catch wasnt confusing at all. it was a touchdown. calling it incomplete is like is like marking someone’s answer on a test wrong because they didn’t shade in the whole bubble.

  8. edukator4 says: Oct 16, 2011 4:40 PM

    the pettigrew td needed to be discussed by the refs too, despite him laying on his back for a full second then having willis rip it out.

  9. otis52gsh says: Oct 16, 2011 4:41 PM

    That was no TD. He did not maintain possession all the way through. That’s the rule plain and simple. Right call until it was overturned. Lions got lucky again. Won’t happen next week against Atlanta. They will wipe the floor with Detroit. Funny to me that the lions FINALLY play a team with a winning record and lose. Can you say overrated?? I just did!! And let’s not forget the niners had like 15 penalties, they didn’t even play well and still beat the lions in their house. That really has to burn you fans who actually think this lions team is any good. Here comes the real Detroit lions.

  10. fatfreddystubbs says: Oct 16, 2011 4:41 PM

    don’t have a rooting interest in either team, but this game is entertaining as hell, two young up and coming teams. that being said, i think you could read “war and peace” cover to cover in the amount of time this game is taking.

  11. amanistumor says: Oct 16, 2011 4:48 PM

    For the easily confused…..

    A Catch followed by FIVE steps is considered possession, it’s really that simple.

  12. nahcouldntbethat says: Oct 16, 2011 4:58 PM

    Why is breathing with clear possession of the football and both feet down not a catch?

    This football move thing is stupid.

    A receiver either has both feet down and possession of he does not. If he does it should be a catch. If he does not it should not.

    How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? If you let the NFL try to figure it out you’ll never know.

  13. mikea311 says: Oct 16, 2011 5:16 PM

    manningham had a similar the was challenged by the giants for a td and was not a td.

    i agree the giants call was not a td but really they need to be consistent.

  14. forthelove says: Oct 16, 2011 5:26 PM

    Everyone on here offering a “simple” rule of possession + two points of contact and no mas would be singing a different tune if a WR on their team gets two feet down, immediately gets popped and the ball comes loose (which happens pretty much every Sunday).

    Also, if that wasn’t ruled a catch, you’d better believe that’s the last time Burleson swings a football around like a loaf of bread.

  15. fooath says: Oct 16, 2011 6:38 PM

    would be singing a different tune if a WR on their team gets two feet down, immediately gets popped and the ball comes loose
    —————————————————-
    That’s a “fumble”.

    There wouldn’t be any interpretation. Go back to possession + two feet or body part.

  16. nomoreseasontix says: Oct 16, 2011 8:11 PM

    After “the tuck rule”, you’re surprised that the NFL can’t get out of its own way?
    There’s no consistency in many of the on field calls this year.
    The NFL’s solution is to issue rule changes to justify bad on field officiating.

  17. centralchamps says: Oct 16, 2011 8:20 PM

    otis52gsh says:
    Oct 16, 2011 4:41 PM
    That was no TD. He did not maintain possession all the way through. That’s the rule plain and simple. Right call until it was overturned. Lions got lucky again. Won’t happen next week against Atlanta. They will wipe the floor with Detroit. Funny to me that the lions FINALLY play a team with a winning record and lose. Can you say overrated?? I just did!! And let’s not forget the niners had like 15 penalties, they didn’t even play well and still beat the lions in their house. That really has to burn you fans who actually think this lions team is any good. Here comes the real Detroit lions.
    ————————————————-

    oh I’m sorry your life is so pathetic you have to belittle someone or the team so you feel a little better about yourself … get a life man!

  18. granadafan says: Oct 16, 2011 10:21 PM

    That was a catch, end of. That said, why don’t players just remove all doubt and hold the damn ball with two hands all the way to the ground. Then stand up with the ball in the air to remove any doubt. Trying to go for style points is just crap. The points on the scoreboard are what matters.

  19. The Phantom Stranger says: Oct 17, 2011 1:53 AM

    How about instead of referees they get 50 guys in a bar to make these calls?

  20. truthserum4u says: Oct 17, 2011 7:46 AM

    Lions receiver Nate Burleson caught a pass in the end zone, stumbled to the ground as he crossed the end line and then dropped the ball as he hit the ground in the fourth quarter of today’s game against the 49ers. The official on the field, who was in perfect position to see the whole play, ruled it incomplete, saying Burleson didn’t complete his catch as he went to the ground.

    ———————————–

    At what point did Burleson go to the ground?

    He took 5 steps turned and put his hands to the ground to prevent himself from going down. He never went down to the ground. That’s the biggest difference between this and Clavin Johnson’s catch (which should have been a TD – put it down while getting up).

  21. davidpom50 says: Oct 17, 2011 4:53 PM

    I’m really torn on this one. If Johnson’s wasn’t a TD last year, then this one wasn’t either. The rule seems to be that you have to control the ball until you stop moving/running/sliding on the ground, whatever. As a football fan, I think the rule should be changed, both were clearly caught and controlled, and if the play happened anywhere except the endzone, they’d be fumbles or catch & down by contact. As a 9er fan, I REALLY didn’t want that to be a TD.

  22. gamewarrior405 says: Oct 19, 2011 11:42 AM

    First, Megatron’s incomplete was a touchdown all day. The ball came out when he went to get up from the ground.

    Burlesson was also a catch, due to the fact of interference from the field goal net. If you notice, when he gets up from the ground, the net is actually tangled in both hands.

    Either way, the NFL was wrong to institute such a vague rule to begin with.

  23. gamewarrior405 says: Oct 19, 2011 11:47 AM

    Central, did you even watch the game. The 49ers did nothing to win that game, the Lions did everything to give them the win.

    It was truly a game of inches. The touchback instead of down on the 1/2 yard line. The 4th & goal completion was by an inch if that.

    The 49ers were handed a 15 yard unsportsman for horse collar tackle which was obvious to anyone that it was not. Free 5 yards on the return that set up gaming winning TD.

    In the end, Detroit beat themselves, not the 49ers.

  24. contract says: Oct 23, 2011 6:29 PM

    “Everyone on here offering a “simple” rule of possession + two points of contact and no mas would be singing a different tune if a WR on their team gets two feet down, immediately gets popped and the ball comes loose (which happens pretty much every Sunday). ”

    forthelove: You must be young, because many of us grew up with that rule, and never had a problem with it because it made absolute sense and everyone understood the rule.

    When your WR fumbles the ball, you yell for a better WR, not for the NFL to change the rule.

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