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Blandino: Refs need to be more consistent on catch rulings

Broncos Panthers Football AP

Ever since Week One of the 2010 season, when an apparent Calvin Johnson touchdown catch was overturned and ruled incomplete, NFL fans have had a hard time understanding what constitutes a catch. NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino admits that part of the confusion stems from the league’s own officials not always understanding what constitutes a catch.

In an officiating video distributed to the media, Blandino admitted that a 57-yard catch by Mike Wallace against the Panthers, which was ruled a catch on the field and stayed a catch even after the Panthers challenged, should have been ruled incomplete.

“The ball comes loose when he hits the ground,” Blandino said. “This is an incomplete pass. We didn’t rule it this way, and again, we’ve got to work and strive to be more consistent with our game officials to make sure they understand this.”

Blandino said a similar play on a pass to Dez Bryant late in the Cowboys-Giants game was correctly ruled incomplete.

“He’s got to hold onto the football when he lands. He doesn’t. That’s an incomplete pass,” Blandino said.

Blandino said the league is continuing to work to ensure that the officials understand the rules.

“We’ll continue to direct officials on this topic, on this issue and make sure that we continue to work on consistency in this area,” Blandino said.

Right now, the consistency in officiating isn’t there.

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45 Responses to “Blandino: Refs need to be more consistent on catch rulings”
  1. gratefulgecko says: Nov 30, 2013 7:37 AM

    Then they should change the rules back to the way it used to be in football.

    I don’t see why a receiver, who catches a ball in bounds, feet in, and travels out of bounds, still with the ball, is required to keep it from popping out when he crashes into the opposing teams’s sideline. He caught the ball, can’t he just protect himself, now?

  2. oldcracker says: Nov 30, 2013 7:37 AM

    Refs need to be more consistent…..period!

  3. tirap says: Nov 30, 2013 7:45 AM

    I kind of disagree with the Dez Bryant play. The man caught the ball, avanced the ball six yards and the ground caused the lose ball. Mayor I’m wrong, but that wasn’t “in the process of making tha catch”. But let’s say it wasn’t. How many yards he has to advance (“or other football moves need to make”) in order to be considered a catch?

    We need a mental scenario for clarification and I propose this one: If instead of the ground making the ball coming lose it was a defender’s hand slap, would it be a fumble or an incomplete pass? If you (an oficial) would answer “fumble” under this mental scenario, then it would be a catch on the real case.

    Try it on the Dez catch. Maybe there’s a better mental scenario than my proposed one, but One of this might help.

  4. petehemlock says: Nov 30, 2013 7:57 AM

    This is what happens when slo-mo HD replays get a little out of control.

  5. td33simplythebest says: Nov 30, 2013 8:13 AM

    Maybe the refs should be fined for every missed call.

  6. tfaulk says: Nov 30, 2013 8:15 AM

    Odd, the Wallace catch he makes like three steps inbounds with ball secured before the ball gets jarred loose.

    It was the Clay pass that actually was bobbled and slid down his body.

    Again, review doesn’t necessarily solve a problem.

  7. bringbackkosar says: Nov 30, 2013 8:15 AM

    so the problem is maybe the f***ed up rulebook when NOBODY – coaches, players, zebras, commentators, fans – understands what the hell a catch is? Less lawyers and more common sense on Park Avenue – signed, everybody

  8. td33simplythebest says: Nov 30, 2013 8:17 AM

    The problem with Dez’s catch against the Giants was the Cowboys even took a time out for the refs to look at the play and they still did not review it. The cowboys could not throw the red flag because it was within the last 2 minutes. Too many games are being determined by the refs and not the players.

  9. patriottony says: Nov 30, 2013 8:20 AM

    It doesn’t what team,,or what type of play,,there is 0% consistency,,,ZERO!!! Last week on Mannings tying drive in the 4th qtr,,,,Pats Nickovich had his left hand on the receivers hip,,,REF threw a Flag for P/I,,,next play was manning TD tying the game. Next Pats Possesion,,,,Same exact play by the COLTS in front of the REF,,,Pats Recv gets tackled by Colts defender…no flag…
    It’s almost like the REF crew before the game pulls out crib notes before the game and says…ohhhh I never knew that…and lets look for that today. JETS/PATS a few weeks ago…..PUSHING by DEF Tackle on FG try…..thats unsportsmanlike? REALLY?

  10. gg206 says: Nov 30, 2013 8:21 AM

    Blandino is a tool, ever since Perrierra left that office has been garbage.. How about losing a couple pages out of the rule book.. If your officials can’t consistently decipher what a catch is.. Then maybe it’s the rule itself.. The late Jerry Seeman is rolling in his grave..

  11. jr4real says: Nov 30, 2013 8:27 AM

    The real conclusion:

    Wallace can’t catch.

  12. canmannac says: Nov 30, 2013 8:27 AM

    Honestly on any given Sunday in any given stadium you never know what you are going get from this carnival of crud know as reffing. Really it is a total joke and it is one the MAIN reason this sport is becoming a bit of joke. Either the refs are affecting the spread or have no clue what is going on. They need to hired as full time employees who receive the best and highest training, and for god sakes need to be in shape to keep up with the play. Enough already!

  13. ketch20too says: Nov 30, 2013 8:31 AM

    Or they need to add common sense back into what is a catch. The rule is ridiculous as written.

  14. nfceastisbeast says: Nov 30, 2013 8:32 AM

    Agree Grateful. Ground can’t cause a fumble on run but can cause an incompletion on catch? Makes no sense.

  15. bunjy96 says: Nov 30, 2013 8:33 AM

    Don’t leave rules open to interpretation wherever possible.

    Possession is possession. Either it is or it ain’t.

    Anything other than holding onto the ball after the catch is incomplete. What’s so difficult to understand?

  16. faulkn22 says: Nov 30, 2013 8:34 AM

    oldcracker, I was going to post that verbatim and you beat me to the punch. +1.

  17. shelovesfootball says: Nov 30, 2013 8:37 AM

    Distribute the video to the refs not the media as they’re the ones who need to learn from it!

  18. thehatefulnerd says: Nov 30, 2013 8:46 AM

    As long as the NFL doesn’t clean up it’s rule book, we will know that it’s because they WANT officials deciding the outcome of games.

    The NFL is going the way of the NBA and boxing before that. Soon it will be unwatchable.

    Goodell is a phoney and is completely destroying a once great sport. Everything he says and does is false and fraudulent, because that is what he is as a person.

    Nobody likes you, Goodell. Step down now for the good of the game.

  19. skolvikesskol says: Nov 30, 2013 8:56 AM

    They need to get rid of these replacement refs! They are a travesty!!! Get the regular refs back now!!!!

  20. corvusrex96 says: Nov 30, 2013 8:59 AM

    I would be ok if they would apply all of tbe rules the same to all teams . You sneeze on Brady 15 yards meanwhile the Browns or Jags QB can be decapitated and no flag. At least try to appear impartial

  21. barneyrumble says: Nov 30, 2013 9:08 AM

    Pats played the Broncos not the Colts but it’s always the Pats against Manning no matter the team Peyton plays for.

  22. randy001 says: Nov 30, 2013 9:17 AM

    Maybe the refs should be empowered to look at a pass and catch and say, on the field, “Yeah, that was a catch,” or “No, the guy didn’t handle it,” instead of processing rules about control, two steps, etc. before they can call a catch or not.

    They’re out in the backyard with the rest of us throwing and catching footballs. They know a catch when they see one, just like we all do.

    Sure, two feet, don’t let the ball touch the ground but all the super-slo-mo second guessing take something away for me.

    In fact, if everything is going to be replayed int eh booth, why have ref’s anyway?

  23. jkpantheryou says: Nov 30, 2013 9:20 AM

    This wasn’t even their worst call in the Miami game. What is a football move, what isn’t has a lot of grey area to be interpreted. What isn’t up for interpretation is that a pass bobbled while falling OB or in the endzone is not a catch as you must complete the action all the way to the ground.

    They missed a 3rd down, sideline pass where the Miami receiver caught the ball in bounds, but bobbled it going out. Play was challenged and they still screwed it up by inexplicably not paying attention to the back-end of the play. They must have only been concerned to see if the player got his feet inbounds. Miami was already up 3 and this play could have really hurt the Panthers had Miami gone on to score (it did take more time off the clock at the least), but the Panthers stood strong in the end.

  24. macker1283 says: Nov 30, 2013 9:33 AM

    I remember a few weeks ago John Harbaugh challenged a catch that was ruled incomplete. The ball clearly came loose when the receiver hit the ground. And I couldn’t believe a coach didn’t know the rules of the game and would actually waste a challenge like that. But after reading this, I don’t blame any coach for challenging anything these days. The refs themselves dont even know the rules. And how embarrassing to have the head of referring come out and admit that his refs have different definitions of something as so basic as a catch. Ridiculous.

  25. jetsjetsjetsnow says: Nov 30, 2013 9:35 AM

    Thanks for the clarification Blandino… If the head of officiating can’t be consistent then what hope is there of getting some uniformity to the officiating in games?!

    If you are establishing consistency with the rules heres what you do…. Once a ‘football move’ has been made in bounds and then the receiver goes out of bounds he shouldn’t have to keep possession as he hits the ground. If he looses possession inbounds after a ‘football move’ then its considered a fumble. If he looses possession going on the ground out of bounds after a ‘football’ move its incomplete? Makes no sense! If the rule was consistent then it would be a fumble out of bounds, thus a complete pass & retaining possession. The ‘football move’ should change the context of the ruling otherwise why bother having it as a distinction? Again no real consistency in the rules! I have no problem then with a receiver needing to maintain possession as he catches it while going out of bounds because he hadn’t fully established possession with a ‘football move’ yet.

  26. tfaulk says: Nov 30, 2013 9:42 AM

    I’d really like to see this video. It seems Blandino is clearly saying he doesn’t lose control until he hits the ground (unless that quote is getting muddled with th Dez Bryant quote). In which case, I would ask — and someone who received the tape should be asking — what about the 3 intervening steps between reception and hitting the ground? (I thought he had to be arguing that control was never established… but by the quote, that doesn’t fit… This seems like a horrible “clarification.”)

  27. ratsfoiledagain says: Nov 30, 2013 10:06 AM

    td33simplythebest says:
    Nov 30, 2013 8:13 AM
    Maybe the refs should be fined for every missed call.
    ***********
    Not each call because they will miss some. Just like you or I would. It happens.

    Now, if a ref consistently misses calls during a game, or is inconsistent game to game, I’m all in.

  28. toybkshr says: Nov 30, 2013 10:32 AM

    Not such a big upgrade from the replacement refs!

  29. nasaelvis56 says: Nov 30, 2013 10:36 AM

    The NFL has added a slew of overly complicated player safety rules that are incorrectly called (or not called) about 50% of the time, but they’re worried about something that most 8 year olds would get right.

    Nothing quite like placing your $10B product in the hands of your part time staff.

  30. mmi16 says: Nov 30, 2013 10:49 AM

    The quality of NFL officiating is approaching the level of the replacement refs.

  31. gohawks7 says: Nov 30, 2013 11:01 AM

    This is the reason why the NFL needs to handle reviews like the NHL does. All reviews are handled by the same people in a war room at the NFL headquarters.

  32. pancanfinfan says: Nov 30, 2013 11:19 AM

    Oh, you want to go here Smith? How about some consistency for:
    1) What constitutes a catch?
    2) What the hell is pass interference?
    3) What is holding?
    4) What is an illegal blow to the head?
    Finally, 5). Can a QB be tackled in this league anymore.
    NFL—fix these or I will start watching football where men still play it…Australia!

  33. jarheadphoto says: Nov 30, 2013 11:42 AM

    Just to make sure I understand this in my head, the ground can’t cause a fumble, but it can cause an incomplete pass.

    And it’s a touchdown when the ball just touches the white line or pylon, but when the ball goes across the sideline white line, you have to hang on to it amongst all the other things on the sideline.

    Ah yeah, that is so much clearer when you say it out loud like that.

  34. ianijm says: Nov 30, 2013 11:53 AM

    I would love someone from the NFL to explain this to me, because I’ve never understood it …

    A running back approaches the goal line and extends the ball so it crosses the plane. As long as he has possession of the ball when he crosses the plane of the goal line and he’s not down by contact beforehand, it’s a touchdown. It doesn’t matter what happens afterwards, whether someone knocks the ball out of his hands or what, it’s a touchdown.

    Now someone please explain to me why the rules are completely different for a wide receiver. If a receiver catches a ball in the end zone and gets both feet down in bounds he has met (or even exceeded) the standard for a running back. Why does he have this ludicrous extra burden of not only “controlling the ball all the way through the catch” but make sure the ball doesn’t even touch the GROUND while he completes his motions??

    It’s absolutely inconsistent and silly. They HAVE to fix this and get it back to the way it was pre-2010.

  35. mitchem85 says: Nov 30, 2013 1:36 PM

    I’m telling you, the refs need to be more consistent period. The integrity of the game comes into question too much because of the inconsistent calls. The refs are awful and are ruining the game. I have vowed that if something doesn’t change, and soon. I’m done watching the nfl. Which kills me to say and do since I’ve been watching it since the 80’s. I will stick to college where this stuff doesn’t seem to pop up as much.

  36. cometkazie says: Nov 30, 2013 2:25 PM

    If there wasn’t so much money riding on these games . . . .

  37. mike06181 says: Nov 30, 2013 2:55 PM

    The ground cant cause a fumble but the ground can cause a incomplete pass? Double standard.

    The rule should be the ground cant cause a incomplete pass.

  38. pongonfl says: Nov 30, 2013 4:17 PM

    Ya, the rules have to be a system that can be coherently applied in all phases, running, catching, offense and defense. At the goal line and in the end zone. Against a quarter back or against a punt return gunner.
    And by all the freaking refs.

    The variations on contact after 5 yards game to game, and even drive to drive and play to play are just tiresome.

    When that clown head of officiating starts with his excuses on NFL network it really drives home how bad the problem is. Now the plays that looked like catches and were called catches were wrong, and the catches that looked like catches and were not called as catches were right
    Got ya chief. thanks for the clarification.

  39. kenstabler says: Nov 30, 2013 4:34 PM

    Disband the competition committee so they can quit changing the game. There was nothing wrong with the old rules, why put in a new one that is in all reality just stupid.

    I think organized crime is licking it’s chops now that the ref’s can pretty much control the outcome of a game.

    How much ($) to blow a call this Sunday ref?

  40. cometkazie says: Nov 30, 2013 4:50 PM

    There is something wrong with rules that can’t be called w/o depending on replay.

    Period!

  41. bsizemore68 says: Nov 30, 2013 5:36 PM

    The league is run by rich men who will do what it takes to make an extra dollars, even if that drive hurts the game. In the real old days owners brought a team for the honor and love of the sport, and not just to make money like jerry Jones and his big ego, they like the bragging rights, just spend the money and have year round zebras that are in shape and not thinking about there real full time job. Bill

  42. blazophoto says: Nov 30, 2013 6:16 PM

    Yeah, it looks like I wasn’t the only one that was confused and thought “the ground can’t cause a fumble” didn’t apply to receivers.
    Why not?
    I thought the rule was “the ground can’t cause a fumble, but I guess it can if you are a receiver.
    If it applies to RBs it should apply to WRs.
    The ground can’t cause a fumble.
    Period.
    The player is down and the play is over that instant…whether RB or WR.
    As far as I’m concerned, if the receiver has clear possession and even his knees are down before he hits the ground, it should be a catch.
    They want more offense, right?
    Then again, maybe not, because the number of touchbacks since they moved teh kickoff up is ridiculous. Ball on the 20 yd. line 90% of the time–boring!!
    And in the endzone, or on the sidelines, once the feet are down or in–with possession–as soon as that guy goes out of bounds whatever happens after that should be moot.
    Play completed.
    With less technicalities and differences as to what position player does what, there would be less need and more clear cut calls on instant replay.
    They’re making it more complicated than it has to be.

  43. bkeating51 says: Nov 30, 2013 6:29 PM

    Can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said. Why did the league have to add confusion to the rules that had been in force for years.

    Used to be if the receiver caught the ball in the end zone, a legitimate catch, it was a touchdown and you celebrated. Now you have a potential touchdown and you wait five or ten minutes while the ref looks to see if the ball “moved” after it was caught but before the receiver was down or had run through the end zone.

    As others have said, if the ground can’t cause a fumble, then the ground can’t cause an incompletion once the receiver has gained possession of the ball.

    It’s that simple. Do it.

    Because of the record TV rating, the NFL thinks it can ignore the desires of the fans. Fans are really angry at the convoluted rules and their inconsistent enforcement. Ignore them at your peril.

  44. spfripp says: Nov 30, 2013 7:55 PM

    The other rule I find confusing is that if a receiver caught the ball falling back wards, not only his toes needs to be in bounds but his heels too. As where if he is falling forwards just his toes need to touch inbounds. I would love to pick the brain of the person who came up with these rules. Maybe than they would make sense.

  45. brucetrimble says: Nov 30, 2013 10:45 PM

    The inconsistency of officiating from week to week, game to game, and ref to ref is maddening and it undermines the quality of the game, which erodes my desire to watch. The NFL needs full time refs, not a bunch if guys who officiate as a hobby.

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