Should Jared Cook’s late touchdown have been upheld?

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Thursday night’s fantastic finish was nearly a lot less fantastic. And if the home team hadn’t scored on the second untimed down after the expiration of the clock, Raiders fans would have been shouting plenty of “F” words other than fantastic.

Before the series of three straight penalties that resulted in the game-winning touchdown, tight end Jared Cook caught what could have been the game-winning touchdown with 18 seconds on the clock. Indeed, the official who was looking right at the play called it a touchdown, meaning that the ruling would be overturned only if the league office found clear and obvious evidence to the contrary.

Yes, the various replay angles (including an excellent look from the pylon camera) showed Cook pinning the ball against his chest with one hand while his butt was on the ground. But Cook was in the process of going to the ground. After he hit the ground, the ball seemed to shifted in his possession as he rolled. He kept it from coming loose and, as we’ve learned over the years, becoming an incompletion.

Here’s the rule: “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 until after his initial contact with 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.”

In this case, it’s fair to interpret the visual evidence as showing Cook not having full and complete and final control of the ball (and thus not completing the catch) until he rolled into the end zone and secured the football after it moved from the spot where it was pinned against his chest. During replay review, that interpretation doesn’t matter. What matters is whether senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron sees “clear and obvious” proof that the official who was looking right at the play got it wrong.

In other words, is it clear and obvious that Cook didn’t finalize the catch via the shifting of the ball as he rolled in to the end zone? If the ball had popped in to the air and landed on the ground as Cook rolled into the end zone, the pass clearly would have been incomplete. More importantly for these circumstances, if the ball had popped in to the air and landed in Cook’s hands after he was in the end zone, the pass clearly would have been complete in the end zone.

What happened on Thursday night was much more subtle. The ball seems to shift as Cook rolls in to the end zone. The core question is whether the shifting of the ball was sufficiently minimal to make it “clear and obvious” that Cook clearly and obviously had full control when his butt landed and the ball was outside the end zone.

If it wasn’t clear and obvious, the ruling on the field shouldn’t have been reversed.

While it’s academic at this point since the Raiders won, it’s important to understand how these rulings are being determined by Riveron. Based on Sunday’s controversial Patriots-Jets outcome and last night’s Cook catch, it could be that clear and obvious evidence is being found in situations where things really aren’t clear or obvious enough to overcome the “50 drunks in a bar” standard for changing the call on the field.

37 responses to “Should Jared Cook’s late touchdown have been upheld?

  1. looking at it a different way… i am no expert on the rules but i believe he needed to be touched down after completing the catch. he was touched before the pass was completed but not again before he made it into the endzone. so when can a receiver be touched down?

  2. You’re over-analyzing – he still controlled it, and was down inches short. You’re bringing this up because of all the saltiness over the Jets-Pats game. But compare Cook’s catch to that of the Jets’ Jenkins call where one replay angle and several still photos shows the ball floating in free air in front of Jenkins as it reaches the line – that is losing control (and a touchback), but not Cook’s case where the ball shifts slightly in his hands – many slo-mos would show a little shifting.

  3. You’re trying too hard. Fifty drunks in a bar thought that wasn’t a touchdown after looking at one replay.
    =====

    Yep.

    Same with the Brady fumble.

  4. aarons444 says:
    October 20, 2017 at 11:14 am
    YES!

    Hello?! Its the only play he’ll make this year. Don’t take it away from him!!
    ***************************************************
    For those that didn’t watch the game, he made a number of big catches.

  5. I missed all this because I was spending a fraction of an NFL ticket price instead going to a rock concert where I had the time of my life, but just how many plays exactly were the Raiders allowed run with 0 seconds on the clock, including the winning extra point? 2? 3?

    Lol it’s like the league wants to fail as some sort of Springtime for Goodell tax dodge.

  6. For once, we are in total agreement. The ball absoluteky came loose. The problem was the camera missed all but the very beginning of the ball coming loose. I thought it should have been incomplete. Based on the rules in place currently.

  7. For those that didn’t watch the game, he made a number of big catches.
    =====

    Don’t get used to it.

    He’ll vanish again, as he has everywhere. Titans, Rams, Packers….

  8. this is the reverse of the madness we had during the Patriots game a few weeks ago, when a player caught the ball near the goalline while airborne and landed on the one and it was called a TD. So if it’s not a catch until he’s done catching it, it’s a raider td, but yet for the patriots, when he was done with the catching, it’s still a td.

    Another classic for the league with no rules.

  9. It should have been a touchdown. And let’s not forget the obvious PI call missed in the end zone on the last drive the Raiders had to kick a field goal. Their WR was thrown to the grown like it was Greco Roman wrestling match. In the end, it all worked out…but the refs have to be better top to bottom every week.

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    aarons444 says:
    October 20, 2017 at 11:25 am
    You’re trying too hard. Fifty drunks in a bar thought that wasn’t a touchdown after looking at one replay.
    =====
    Yep.
    Same with the Brady fumble.

    ————-

    What Brady fumble… the one from 16 years ago?

  11. rewdog24 says:
    October 20, 2017 at 11:30 am
    This was the same type of play where the officials cheated the Jets out of their game against the Pats!

    ————-

    The only similar thing about those two plays is they happened near the endzone.

  12. I was actually thinking the same then when I was watching. I fully agreed with the call, but if he was bobbling it more and he still came down with it, I guess it would have been a TD.

  13. Multi billion dollar industry. A commissioner that makes ludicrous cash, and they cant figure out how to get the players to stand for OUR NATIONAL anthem, or how to officiate a simple game. # NFLISFAILING

  14. helicopterpilot13 says:
    October 20, 2017 at 11:33 am
    For once, we are in total agreement. The ball absoluteky came loose. The problem was the camera missed all but the very beginning of the ball coming loose. I thought it should have been incomplete. Based on the rules in place currently.

    ————

    Huh? It was definitely 100% a catch. The ball never hit the ground and he was inbounds. That`s not the point of this post. It`s was he down by contact before the endzone or was the catch completed once he had full control in the endzone.

    I agree with the call in the end.

  15. I was a drunk in a bar with no particular stake in the game (other than Derek Carr starting for my fantasy squad), and I was immediately sure they were going to overturn the touchdown, even though they probably should have just let it stand. I still think there should be a rule that if replay isn’t conclusive after 60 seconds of looking, the call stands automatically.

    But is this what football watching is coming to? We all have to be technical experts on the minutiae of “demonstrating control”, “completing the process”, blah blah blah…

    By the way, I’m not sure we want to get into a rules situation where it benefits a receiver to not completely secure control of the ball as he’s moving forward. That could result in some real weirdness.

  16. streetyson says:
    October 20, 2017 at 11:23 am
    You’re over-analyzing – he still controlled it, and was down inches short. You’re bringing this up because of all the saltiness over the Jets-Pats game. But compare Cook’s catch to that of the Jets’ Jenkins call where one replay angle and several still photos shows the ball floating in free air in front of Jenkins as it reaches the line – that is losing control (and a touchback), but not Cook’s case where the ball shifts slightly in his hands – many slo-mos would show a little shifting.

    ———-

    I agree. Also… people that argued that Jenkins didn`t fumble before the goal line are plain wrong. That ball was free as can be. However, based on the rules that the runner has to re-control the ball while inbounds and maintain control if landing out of bounds I think its fair to argue that it was too close to call. I agreed that it was the correct call by the book, but I wouldn`t have complained if it was a TD either I guess.

  17. Lol, Patriots fans still don’t get the ruling against the Jets

    The receiver clearly bobbled the ball and when he ended up out of bounds and had secured the ball it wasn’t clear on replay when he regained control before or after he ended up out of bounds. There is no replay that shows the ball.

    Since it’s not indisputable the call of TD on the field should stand. The top NFL guy doesn’t know how replay works.

  18. THIS- more than anthem protests, more than low scoring games, more than anything else- THIS is killing football. If you, the NFL, ESPN, NBC, FOX or anyone else thinks this micro-managing, 1,000 slo mo replays from a hundred angles, five minute plus game delaying reviews are what the average football fan wants to be see, you and they are sorely mistaken.

    Nothing saps the fun and excitement from watching an NFL game more than this minutiae. And it’s not helping here either. Good lord- read what you just typed. Is THAT what you signed up for when you got in to this business?

  19. It was a catch. It was a touchdown. The refs stink. Riveron stinks.
    They are ruining the game. They should just get rid of replay. It was supposed to make the game better, and it’s making it worse. It’s getting to where I’d rather see my team get robbed on the field than shafted from New York.

  20. You’re exactly right Florio. He didn’t control the ball until after he crossed the goal line. It was a touchdown. Plain as day. I didn’t make the rules, but according to the rulebook, it’s a touchdown.
    By the way, when they re-spotted that ball that the KC WR reached out for the first down, the initial call was correct. They made a mistake on the re-spot. Romo must have been drunk. The front angle clearly showed the ball was out of bounds. They ignored that, even though they showed it to us. They kept looking at the side angle, where you couldn’t see when the ball crossed over into out of bounds. I could see all that and I only had two drinks all night.

  21. Still can’t believe the Packers let Cook go..
    =====

    30 receptions, 377 yards, 1 (ONE!) touchdown.

    Yet Packer fans act as if he were Tony Gonzalez.

    They guy wasn’t even Jermichael Finley for crying out loud!

  22. What Brady fumble… the one from 16 years ago?
    =====

    The Woodson forced fumble that wasn’t ruled a fumble beacuse of a rule that made so much sense it has since been abolished.

  23. Aarons44, what rule had been abolished? To this day, if a qbs arm is going forward and the ball comes out, it is still considered an incomplete pass, isnt it? Intent doesnt matter.

  24. His point is that it was the same catch as the austin seferian jenkins catch but called two ways. A bobble occurrd over goalline.

  25. Refs gifted that game to Oakland. From the first TD where Drops clearly pushed the defender in the back to the end where they refs did everything possible to keep giving Oakland chances. This was more obvious than the gift Oakland got last year in Mexico in Houston. And Raider fans blame everything on the refs. LOL!

  26. If it’s a catch and he’s down at the one the clock should of continued to run. If the replay stops the clock to overturn the TD with 16 seconds the defense is the team put at a disadvantage.

    Obviously the Radiers had no time outs and MAYBE gets off one last play. At minimum 10-12 seconds should of been run off the clock to account for the time it would of taken the offense to get set had the play been called correctly in the first place.

  27. “If it’s a catch and he’s down at the one the clock should of continued to run. If the replay stops the clock to overturn the TD with 16 seconds the defense is the team put at a disadvantage.

    Obviously the Radiers had no time outs and MAYBE gets off one last play. At minimum 10-12 seconds should of been run off the clock to account for the time it would of taken the offense to get set had the play been called correctly in the first place.”

    This is a joke, right? The 10-second runoff rule (which, by the way, runs off 10 seconds, not 10-12) was applied. The Raiders were able to run several plays only because the refs called successive defensive penalties, resulting in untimed downs to be played.

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