The Cowboys are back at Lambeau Field, and the catch rule has been interpreted in their favor. For a change.
Receiver Cole Beasley caught a short first-quarter pass near the goal line, lunged across while stumbling to the ground, and lost possession when he hit the ground. The ruling on the field was a catch and a score. The replay process resulted in a confirmation of the touchdown.
Per a source with direct knowledge of the outcome, the ruling was upheld because the visual evidence didn’t show an obvious error. More specifically, the available replay angles did not yield indisputable proof that Beasley was going to the ground when making the catch.
The decision bolsters the perception created last year in the postseason, when a ruling of a catch by Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald wasn’t overturned despite apparent evidence that he was going to the ground. The NFL seems to be willing to apply the 50-drunks-in-a-bar standard to the convoluted catch rule, requiring clear and obvious proof that one or more of the elements of a catch are missing before the decision will be overturned.
Indeed, the source said that, if the ruling had been that Beasley had not caught the ball, it wouldn’t have been overturned if challenged by the Cowboys.
This is the right approach, but it won’t make Cowboys fans feel any better about the last controversial catch/no-catch decision from a game at Lambeau Field. Under the standard the NFL currently applies to the review of these rulings, Bryant’s catch from the 2014 playoffs likely would have been upheld.