NFL says Dez Bryant, Jesse James plays would be catches under new rule

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Two of the most controversial plays in recent NFL history would have gone the other way if the proposed new catch rule had been in effect.

NFL head of officiating Al Riveron tweeted that the infamous Dez Bryant non-catch against the Packers in the 2014 playoffs, and the infamous Jesse James non-catch against the Patriots in the 2017 season, both would have been complete under the new catch rule.

The catch rule has been under scrutiny for years, but the Bryant play, which possibly cost the Cowboys the game against the Packers, brought it under particularly intense scrutiny. And the James play, which may have handed the Patriots home-field advantage over the Steelers, appears to have been the last straw.

Whether the new catch rule turns out to be any less controversial than the old catch rule remains to be seen. But it would have changed two of the most controversial plays the NFL has seen.

93 responses to “NFL says Dez Bryant, Jesse James plays would be catches under new rule

  1. “which possibly cost the Cowboys the game” true, but there was over 4 minutes left, the Cowboys couldn’t stop the Packers in the second half, and Romo wasn’t the holder for Green Bay.
    But we will never know.

  2. “Look, we may have made the rules more subjective and a mess, but now we can call a couple plays a completion.”

    What they should have said originally was “When your job is to catch the ball, you’d better know the rules regarding a catch. If you had, there’d be no issue.”

  3. Loved the Dez call, but don’t get why people cling to a team that has 2 playoff wins in 20 years. Is it just because their owner is a loud mouth?

  4. “But it would have changed two of the most controversial plays the NFL has seen.”
    “Really MDS!?!?” – Calvin Johnson

    Jesse James play wasn’t nearly as controversial as the Bryant one. The ball literally rotated in his hands while being against the turf.

    They should have turned back thon clock and said if the ball touches the ground it’s not a catch….done. Simple.

  5. “…which may have handed the Patriots home-field advantage over the Steelers.”

    Pittsburgh had HFA in the Divisional Round and gave up 45 points to Blake Bortles.

  6. Don’t give those Cowboys fans any excuses! You know how they hold on to the past,Dez Caught it Dez Caught it….We won the Super Bowl in 1996…..Child Please!!!!

  7. The rule was actually changed prior to the SB. In the regular season, the Ertz TD would have been ruled incomplete. But, that would have been too controversial for the league on that stage. But I thought the James, Bryant, Johnson, and Ertz TD’s were all catches.

  8. If Mike Tomlin would have actually coached his team rather than stare at the Jumbotron for 200 seconds the Steelers would have won the game anyway

  9. The thing is that the old rule applied equally to all teams before and the new rule applies equally to all teams now. And a given play can unfold any way at any time. The people criticizing the old rule were not so much bothered by the rule itself (even if that was their claim), what they were really mad about was that it got a play called in a way that was against the team they were rooting for. So being mad they called it unfair. But if this year a play unfolds in a way that the new rule works against the team they were rooting for they will just call that unfair too. The NFL seems to be trying to produce a way people wont get upset about calls and call them unfair but that is simply never going to happen.

  10. “And the James play, which may have handed the Patriots home-field advantage over the Steelers,”

    Just want to remind everyone that it was not the Patriots that knocked the Steelers out of the playoffs. That seems to get forgotten a lot or I think some have as of yet never realized it.

  11. I love how the Cowboys fans think that catch affected the game. Yes the Cowboys would have taken the lead, but there was still 4 min left and the Cowboys could not stop Aaron Rodgers all day. Rodgers most likely would have scored another TD. 4 min is like an eternity for him.

  12. lgw91s says:
    March 22, 2018 at 7:25 am

    The rule was actually changed prior to the SB. In the regular season, the Ertz TD would have been ruled incomplete. But, that would have been too controversial for the league on that stage. But I thought the James, Bryant, Johnson, and Ertz TD’s were all catches.

    5 2 Rate This

    _________________________________________________

    Ertz catch was nothing like the above. He took 3 full steps dove and crossed the line. None of the players listed above had nearly as much going on.

  13. jimnaizeeum says:
    March 22, 2018 at 6:38 am
    Loved the Dez call, but don’t get why people cling to a team that has 2 playoff wins in 20 years. Is it just because their owner is a loud mouth?

    Sir/Madam, have you EVER heard of “bandwagon” fans?? The majority of Cowboy fans are not that type of fan 🙂 I bet you have heard of “through Hell and high water”. That is why Cowboy fans are # 1 in the Harris poll every year. And, that is in spite of GM Jerry Jones, not owner Jerry Jones!!! Dez did catch it…….

  14. what about the 2006 “faceguarding” penalty conjured up by the ref in the title game vs the colts with goodell newly in tow?

    did that somehow become a new rule
    or just something ignored because it victimized the pats?

  15. The NFL rules are one of the reasons people don’t watch as often. The new rule is going to make the situation even worse, where obvious drops will be called catches. The NFL is like the government. Can’t do anything right.

  16. “lgw91s says:
    March 22, 2018 at 7:25 am

    The rule was actually changed prior to the SB. ”

    Proof of this “rule change”? Riveron unilaterally changed his interpretation DURING the Superbowl which greatly benefited the Eagles.

    If your statement were true, this article wouldn’t exist.

  17. realfan41 says:
    March 22, 2018 at 6:30 am
    And Jerry Rice Fumbled.
    ____________________________

    How could he fumble with all that Stickum on his gloves?

  18. after reading the article, here’s a penetrating glance into the obvious: the NFL will continue to have catch controversies in the 2018 season but, again, will try to make subtle changes to the catch rule before the playoffs begin…

  19. grogansheroes says:
    March 22, 2018 at 7:07 am
    If the rule benefits the Patriots, it must be changed.

    17 10 Rate This

    ———-

    anyone denying this is a moron or a fraud

  20. yooperman says:

    “which possibly cost the Cowboys the game” true, but there was over 4 minutes left, the Cowboys couldn’t stop the Packers in the second half, and Romo wasn’t the holder for Green Bay.
    But we will never know.
    =================================================

    The Packers couldn’t stop DeMarco (123 yds) and they only had one time out left. Dallas could have easily burned enough time off the clock to punch it in. When Dez made the catch the entire stadium went dead quiet. Rodgers looked like he was about to cry. Everyone knew they were in serious trouble.

  21. Dallas got robbed of a Super Bowl win. The defense was good enough and the offense was pretty much unstoppable that year.

  22. Like the tuck rule. Once it became obvious it was silly, it was time to change it. With the advancement of replay, the NFL has felt it necessary to break everything down frame by frame. It’s made the game more controversial, instead of less. I still think the only logical way to go is to simplify it. A catch is clear possession of the ball. Whatever happens after determines the outcome of the catch, not the catch itself, i.e. 2 feet inbounds: catch on the field of play. 1 foot out of bounds: out of bounds. Ball comes loose on contact of the field: fumble, etc, etc.

  23. Wouldn’t have mattered in the Dallas game anyway, there was over 4 minutes left and Rodgers was on fire.

  24. I know, lets blur the lines so the half that clearly understood the rule will be just as confused as the half that never understood the rules to begin with.

    That’s Washington DC level of dopeism. It’s not broken enough. Lets break it some more.

  25. captainwhodat says:
    March 22, 2018 at 8:08 am
    after reading the article, here’s a penetrating glance into the obvious: the NFL will continue to have catch controversies in the 2018 season but, again, will try to make subtle changes to the catch rule before the playoffs begin…

    2 0 Rate This

    —————-

    only if it adversley affects the patriots

    otherwise, they will look the other way

    lawyers leave a grey area to lie and cheat when necessary, hence
    the grey area

    at least riveron has ethics and was doing his job

  26. People seem to forget that after the overturned TD call, the Steelers still had 2nd and 10 from the 10 yard line with 34 seconds left on the clock and chose throw a pick instead of a TD.

  27. It’s crazy how that one play changed the entire season. Steelers win that game and get the number one seed and get to play the Titans in the 2nd round and host the AFC Championship game.

  28. People also forget that a year later after Dez’s catch was ruled a non- catch.
    The packers were also the beneficiaries of a personal foul call
    against the Cowboys for a supposedly illegal substitutation.
    A penalty that had not been called in over three years and
    a penalty that was promptly eliminated in the next offseason.
    Penalties usually level out so who knows? But it took away a
    first and goal, losing a almost sure scoring opportunity.

  29. Sadly the most controversial thing about the Dez Bryant non catch/ catch was that play or game never should have happened as Detroit was driving with the lead and at the very least about to go up 7 if not 11 pts before the PI call that was blatant against TE Pettigrew was mysteriously changed after the ball had been spotted and the penalty announced to the crowd…….Nothing to see here ….move along ….we have an IceBowl rematch to get to next week…..Shady stuff

  30. Jesse James’ attempt was NOT a catch and should never be ruled a catch.

    He caught the ball as he was going to the ground, NEVER establishes possession and then loses control once he hits the ground.

    It doesn’t matter that he broke the plain, because you need possession of the ball first to break the plain. It doesn’t matter that the ground can’t cause a fumble because you need to possess the ball before you can fumble it.

    The call was perfect at the time and it shouldn’t be touched.

    Also Dez didn’t catch it either.

    Instead of whining about the rules how about just placing a premium on securing possession of the football?

  31. Steelers fan of 36 years here. The Jesse James play stung for a while but it was really the play after that ruined the win. Throwing an in bounds 8 yard pass from the 10 yard line with no timeouts left led to the whole fake spike debacle. That should never have been thrown. Ben threw 5 dimes in that game and that was a worse decision than the interception.

  32. ajzinnecker says:
    March 22, 2018 at 7:43 am
    I love how the Cowboys fans think that catch affected the game. Yes the Cowboys would have taken the lead, but there was still 4 min left and the Cowboys could not stop Aaron Rodgers all day. Rodgers most likely would have scored another TD. 4 min is like an eternity for him.

    ********************************************************
    Problem is youre missing the larger point, there is no way to know how the game plays out from there. If they keep it a catch and place it at the 1 yardline, does Murray punch it in on the next play and Dallas takes the lead? On Green Bay’s next possession, does Rogers throw an interception?

    No way to know…..when you get to the 4th quarter, everyone knows that the score dictates, play calling, tempo and pressure all of which would have been amplified as it was a playoff game, so there is no way of knowing how it plays out. The point Cowboys fans are making isnt that Dallas clearly would have won the game had they scored, they are saying that taking away an obvious catch prevented them from winning the game….there is a difference.

  33. It’s crazy how that one play changed the entire season. Steelers win that game and get the number one seed and get to play the Titans in the 2nd round and host the AFC Championship game.
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    First off, the Steelers still had the ball at the 3-yard line with time to run two more plays. They couldn’t execute and instead of even tying the game with a FG, BR threw an interception in the end zone. That play didn’t change the season. The Steelers being unable to execute did.

    Fast forward to the divisional round and the Steelers got bounced by the Jags, at home. What makes you think the outcome would have been any different if the JJ play was a TD? The Steelers would have either faced the Pats or Jags, both of which probably would have beat them.

  34. Let’s not forget that Dallas wouldn’t have even made it to the Divisional round of the playoffs that year had it not been for the egregious Anthony Hitchens pass interference flag being mysteriosly picked up in the Wild Card round against Detroit. The league offered no explanation for that and Dean Bladino confirmed later that that should’ve been, at the very least, a defensive holding penalty.

  35. Seeing the refs stir for 5 minutes as they tried to fabricate a reason to overturn the fact that James caught the ball in bounds, turned and extended it over the goal line scoring a touchdown was one of the sorriest displays ever witnessed in professional sports.

    It made hearing Chris Collinsworth and all these whiny loser patriot fans cry about the Superbowl not being rigged for new England all the more sweet as they lost to a backup when they had to actually play without the refs on their team.

  36. steelcurtainn says:

    March 22, 2018 at 9:18 am

    A year to late. The Steelers were robbed. It was a catch and td.
    —————————————————————
    Stop whining. Why is it too much to ask that if you make a catch while going to the ground that you hold onto the ball after you hit the ground?

  37. “Jesse James’ attempt was NOT a catch and should never be ruled a catch.

    He caught the ball as he was going to the ground, NEVER establishes possession and then loses control once he hits the ground.”

    How do you bring the ball into your chest and then extend it back out, in full control – but not possess the ball?
    See the issue isn’t the call, it’s the silly checkbox list of things necessary for possession. If I maintain control of the ball after the QB has thrown it to me, that should be all that is necessary for possession.

    And in the case of James, the issue was really that there was no video evidence of the ball contacting the ground, not in his control. Since that is what the Refs stated was the reason for overturning the call. For that instance, the new definition of clear and indisputable evidence would have kept the call as it was on the field.

  38. “Sir/Madam, have you EVER heard of “bandwagon” fans?? The majority of Cowboy fans are not that type of fan…”

    Are you kidding me?? The majority ARE! When you have “Cowboys Fans” who grow up in South Jersey and even in Philadelphia trying to pump their chest for a team from… wait a minute here…

    T E X A S !!???!!!

    And pulling championships from the late 1900’s out of their arse to smack talk…. LOL… .

    That is EXACTLY what they are – Band Wagon Fans! Come on man, worst “fanbase” in America. Pathetic.

    I am not referring to the actual home-grown Cowboys fans in Texas either. If they rooted for another team one would have to question the logic.

  39. As a fan of football, and no rooting interest in any of the teams involved. My eyes and a history of playing football since I was 6 yo told me those two catches should have been catches, and they would have been called as such on any playground or football field without a NFL logo in the country.

  40. tylawspick6 says:
    March 22, 2018 at 8:08 am
    grogansheroes says:
    March 22, 2018 at 7:07 am
    If the rule benefits the Patriots, it must be changed.

    17 10 Rate This

    ———-

    anyone denying this is a moron or a fraud

    —————————————————-
    i know I will regret this (trying to talk reason to a Pats fan).

    So you are saying the rule changes to a defenses ability to hit a QB haven’t benefited the Pats, and allowed Brady to have a longer career?

  41. jquaste says:
    March 22, 2018 at 9:30 am
    Let’s not forget that Dallas wouldn’t have even made it to the Divisional round of the playoffs that year had it not been for the egregious Anthony Hitchens pass interference flag being mysteriosly picked up in the Wild Card round against Detroit. The league offered no explanation for that and Dean Bladino confirmed later that that should’ve been, at the very least, a defensive holding penalty.
    —————————————————————

    Hard to turn your head around when being grabbed by the face mask. Blandino is just incompetent.

  42. getadealdonealready says:
    March 22, 2018 at 9:49 am

    —————————————————-

    So you are saying the rule changes to a defenses ability to hit a QB haven’t benefited the Pats
    ———————————-

    There is no question or debate that the rule changes that Polian and Dungy forced down the competition committees throats, during their time in Indy, in an effort to turn the NFL into flag football have benefited all Qbs and offenses in the league.

  43. tylawspick6 says:
    March 22, 2018 at 8:46 am

    only if it adversley affects the patriots

    otherwise, they will look the other way

    *************************************************************************

    Can we get some more Pats conspiracy theories, please? Worse than X-Files.

  44. tylawspick6 says:
    March 22, 2018 at 8:08 am
    grogansheroes says:
    March 22, 2018 at 7:07 am
    If the rule benefits the Patriots, it must be changed.

    17 10 Rate This

    ———-

    anyone denying this is a moron or a fraud

    ——————

    The pats are like the other 30 teams this year. Irrelevant.

  45. While I think this might help, no rule can or will ever be full proof because you are asking humans to interpret words and apply them to what they see and different people will have different takes on the words and what they see. Two people could witness the exact same accident in the same manner and reach entirely conclusions on what happened or who is at fault. I just don’t see a rule completely removing the human element of the game.

  46. pretty sure they were catches under the old rule as well, it’s just how the refs “interpret” the rule!

  47. getadealdonealready says:
    March 22, 2018 at 9:49 am
    tylawspick6 says:
    March 22, 2018 at 8:08 am
    grogansheroes says:
    March 22, 2018 at 7:07 am
    If the rule benefits the Patriots, it must be changed.

    17 10 Rate This

    ———-

    anyone denying this is a moron or a fraud

    —————————————————-
    i know I will regret this (trying to talk reason to a Pats fan).

    So you are saying the rule changes to a defenses ability to hit a QB haven’t benefited the Pats, and allowed Brady to have a longer career?

    ———–

    No more so than they have helped every other QB playing under the same rules

  48. “The rule was actually changed prior to the SB. In the regular season, the Ertz TD would have been ruled incomplete. But, that would have been too controversial for the league on that stage. But I thought the James, Bryant, Johnson, and Ertz TD’s were all catches.”

    It’s amazing what simpleton fans can convince themselves of. The Ertz catch was NOTHING like the James catch or the Bryant catch. Ertz caught the ball, possessed it and RAN 3 steps therefore becoming, you know, a runner. He then reaches over the goal line like any running back and scores. Is this still too hard for people to understand?

  49. whywerule says:
    March 22, 2018 at 10:03 am
    getadealdonealready says:
    March 22, 2018 at 9:49 am

    —————————————————-

    So you are saying the rule changes to a defenses ability to hit a QB haven’t benefited the Pats
    ———————————-
    There is no question or debate that the rule changes that Polian and Dungy forced down the competition committees throats, during their time in Indy, in an effort to turn the NFL into flag football have benefited all Qbs and offenses in the league.

    nhpats says:
    March 22, 2018 at 10:38 am

    So you are saying the rule changes to a defenses ability to hit a QB haven’t benefited the Pats, and allowed Brady to have a longer career?

    ———–

    No more so than they have helped every other QB playing under the same rules

    ——————————-

    Granted that the rule benefits every qb equally. What they are trying to say though is that the Pats qb is so much better than the rest that having their qb benefitted does more for the team than the same benefit to a lesser qb.

  50. Funny certain fans commenting here remember Hitchens gettin handsy in the 2014 playoff game against Detroit but either don’t remember or don’t wanna remember why he was reaching for Pettigrew in the first place which was because Pettigrew had him by the facemask and pulled his helmet over his eyes. Hard to know what you’re doing when you can’t see but of course nobody wants to bring that up just like in the aftermath of the game nobody wanted to talk about Tyrone Crawford being tackled from behind as he was about to sack Stafford on a 3rd down play that would’ve ended what ultimately became a TD drive or the bogus OPI call on Terrance Williams when he was pushed by one Detroit DB into another Detroit DB

  51. .
    dez pinned that ball to the ground as his face slammed into the ground. NO CATCH.
    he claims he was reaching the ball… UH look at the film, he made absolutely no effort to do that as he did not have control of the ball yet and used the ground to stop the movement of the ball. NO CATCH. whiner please.

  52. They’re changing the game with this nonsense. Remove replay from catches, let the official make the call real time and let it be final. Enough.

  53. Yeah, so what?

    Baseballs that bounced into the stands in the 20’s were home runs. The rule changed and that became a ground rule double.

    Times change. Rules change.

    Get over it.

  54. I simply cannot believe that Steelers’ fans are still whining about Butterfingers James. How many months has it been now? They got destroyed by the Jaguars anyway so what’s the point? Are they going to say, “oh if we beat NE we would have played someone else…blah blah blah…and we would have won…oh yeah…riiiiiight” That’s so sad. Give me a break, whiners. The whole point of the NFL is to be the best team. And the Steelers were far from the best. As the Jaguars conclusively proved TWICE.

  55. The Steelers would have either faced the Pats or Jags, both of which probably would have beat them.
    ______________________________________________________________________________________
    The Steelers obviously had problems with the Jags but not the Pats. They showed they could beat them and should have. Pats beat Jags and Steelers beat Titans. This would have been the scenario and no one knows how the game would of unfolded. No whining here but the Steelers were robbed because of a rule they are now changing a year later.

  56. Rules change. it doesn’t matter what would or would not have been a catch when applying the current rule to past plays. If you are going to do that, then you could say that every WR that was pushed out of bounds in the air after catching the ball used to be catches and now they are not.

    I think the rule change is sensible, but nobody was ripped off in the past because those plays were called by the rules.

  57. It’s amazing what simpleton fans can convince themselves of. The Ertz catch was NOTHING like the James catch or the Bryant catch. Ertz caught the ball, possessed it and RAN 3 steps therefore becoming, you know, a runner. He then reaches over the goal line like any running back and scores. Is this still too hard for people to understand?

    ——

    there are a lot of people who have no desire to understand. they just want it called in their teams’ favor.

  58. According to the new rules, any future catches calls like these will be a catch. The previous calls are still correct with the rules that were in place. This changes nothing historically, the refs ruled correctly at the time.

  59. The Jesse James play changed the entire dynamics of what followed
    in that game, as well as the match-ups in the playoffs.
    The proposed changes to the rule further solidify the argument
    it was the wrong call. They are correcting a wrong after the fact.

    Patriot fans complaining that :
    ” If the rule benefits the Patriots, it must be changed.”

    That’s just too rich coming from fans of a team that likes exploiting
    all gray areas of the rule book ( and sometimes beyond ) , and were
    gifted four game changing calls to allow them to get as far as they did.

    It just doesn’t get more ridiculous or cynical than that, from the most
    bellicose and arrogant fan base in the league. . .

    Thanks Eagles for shutting them up, …. at least for a bit.

  60. steelcurtainn says:
    March 22, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    The Steelers obviously had problems with the Jags but not the Pats.

    ——

    Really? When was the last time the Steelers beat the Pats?

    Now the Steelers have two teams in the AFC they cannot beat.

  61. Moudabo says:
    March 22, 2018 at 1:43 pm
    —————————————-
    It just doesn’t get more ridiculous or cynical than that, from the most
    bellicose and arrogant fan base in the league. . .

    Thanks Eagles for shutting them up, …. at least for a bit.
    —————————————————————

    The simple way to ‘shut Pats fans up’ will be to stop posting insulting generalizations about Pats fans and/or the team.

    Your post does not meet that simple standard.

  62. Gee, I sure am glad I come to read the comments and find more whining Pats fans that have nothing to do with the article. Maybe the author can put a story up about the tuck rule that stole the game from the Raiders?

    Dez was always a catch, Period.

    And Lions fans? Go watch that play again…Detroit TE had himself a handful of facemask…how in the world can you turn around for that?

  63. nhpats says:
    March 22, 2018 at 10:38 am
    getadealdonealready says:
    March 22, 2018 at 9:49 am
    tylawspick6 says:
    March 22, 2018 at 8:08 am
    grogansheroes says:
    March 22, 2018 at 7:07 am
    If the rule benefits the Patriots, it must be changed.

    17 10 Rate This

    ———-

    anyone denying this is a moron or a fraud

    —————————————————-
    i know I will regret this (trying to talk reason to a Pats fan).

    So you are saying the rule changes to a defenses ability to hit a QB haven’t benefited the Pats, and allowed Brady to have a longer career?

    ———–

    No more so than they have helped every other QB playing under the same rules

    —————————————————————–
    First, we can all agree that Brady is going to go down as the greatest QB to date, so no him staying healthy has certainly benefited your franchise more than any Browns QB staying healthy over that same time.

    In addition you are saying the same hit on Cam Newton and Tom Brady are always going to be flagged the same way?

  64. Don’t upset the Patriot fans. They can’t handle it when people don’t bow down to them. Still the worst fans in the history of professional sports, and STILL crying about the Eagles beating them.

  65. Dez’s catch/noncatch was NOT a catch, and it is recorded in the NFL books as not a catch, and will FOREVER be recorded that way. No point to argue that play anymore, just how to deal with plays like that going forward. Packers had the Fail Mary several years ago, yet somehow I got over it.

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