Waiting for Wednesday night's "Official Review"

As we look back over our notes from another busy two days of NFL action, there’s one major unresolved issue still on the list.

The Mike Sims-Walker no-catch catch in Jacksonville’s 37-17 trouncing of the Titans.

The league’s immediate reaction as of Sunday afternoon was to support referee Alberto Riveron’s decision to overturn via replay review the call on the field, that Sims-Walker failed to maintain possession of the ball when he finally hit the ground in the end zone.  As we understand it, however, the league isn’t in the habit of second-guessing decisions made by game officials on Sundays. 

So the question becomes whether V.P. of officiating Mike Pereira will address the issue during Wednesday night’s “Official Review” during Total Access on NFL Network.

Our guess is that he will, primarily since the guy who asks the questions — Rich Eisen — expressed during NFL GameDay Final a little frustration regarding a rule that has, through the first four weeks of the season, created frustrating results.

If, as we understand it, the rule requires a player who is going to the ground while making a catch to keep possession until and after his body strikes the ground, then the ruling on the field in Sims-Walker’s case should have been upheld on review.

The only question is whether Sims-Walker was going to the ground.  The officials in the end zone presumably believed that he was.  Riveron thought otherwise. 

But isn’t that the very type of judgment call that shouldn’t be subject to replay review?  Really, if it’s OK for the referee to second-guess whether a player was going to the ground when making a catch, shouldn’t replay be used to determine whether pass interference did or didn’t occur?

Bottom line, it’s an area of the rules that requires clarification, not only for the benefit of the folks watching the game — but also for the benefit of the people charged with applying the rules.

29 responses to “Waiting for Wednesday night's "Official Review"

  1. You keep harping on this call but the fact is that Sims-Walker hit the ground with the ball in hand and then the defensive player swatted it out. But once you’ve landed in the endzone it’s over.

  2. He wasn’t going to the ground to make the catch, the rule you’ve quoted doesn’t apply.
    He caught the ball on his feet, and as a “second act” like the head ref says, the defender tackled him and stripped the ball.

  3. It’s pretty easy to figure out if you listen to the explination: He caught the ball, took 3 steps while maintaining posession, then the defender knocked it out when he was on top of him on the ground.
    All you have to do to score a touchdown is break the goal line. Catching the ball and taking 3 steps, or as the referee said at the game “getting 3 feet down” is posession and a touchdown. You don’t have to catch the ball then get tackled.
    You have to maintain posession if all you do is get two feet down and go down, but Sims-Walker took 3 steps while maintaining posession. The “catch” was “made” on the 3rd step, and anything after that means nothing. It’s like when a receiver catches it and the DB knocks it out when he’s laying on his back.
    It’s not anything like the past questionable calls.

  4. The real issue here is that the officiating this year has been horrible. As far as the Official Review on NFL total access that is a joke. They could review a play that had the player hit the QB 5 strides after he has thrown the ball and if the official did not throw the flag they would have a perfectly good reason for why he did not throw a flag. The NFL is a big business and only a fool thinks they are not trying to manipulate the results on the field. If your team is one of the chosen few and you can tell by the flags thrown and not thrown your path to the playoffs is a whole lot easier than those who have pissed off someone in the NFL.

  5. This rule has done nothing but cause confusion and it needs to be fixed as soon as possible; I don’t think they should wait until after the season. Here’s why:
    1. A completed catch is determined by having possession of the ball with both feet down on the ground in the field of play, which Sims-Walker did.
    2. In determining whether there was an incomplete catch or fumble, they look to see if a player made a “football move”, which Sims-Walker did by taking a step while maintaining possession of the football after getting both feet down.
    If you accept points 1 and 2, then you have to accept that Sims-Walker wasn’t going to the ground while making the catch. He had already made the catch and had full possession of the ball in the end zone, which by anyone’s definition should be a touchdown. End of play.
    It was only after this play that the Titans’ defender pulled Sims-Walker down and knocked the ball out of his hands.
    Assume for a moment that the defender had not been draped over his back and had just walked up to Sims-Walker and smacked the ball out of his hands. We wouldn’t be having this discussion right now. I don’t think it’s a good idea to take into account the location of a defender when determining whether or not a play was a touchdown.

  6. You can see in the replay that not only did he take three steps, his elbow also hit the ground before the Titans defender knocked the ball out. Clearly a catch and I have no idea why there is any confusion about that.

  7. Just another rule written and worded that way PURPOSELY by LAWYERS to mean whatever the referee wants it to when it happens.
    No different from bills written in congress that those voting for or against don’t have a clue means.

  8. hiddentrack:
    “1. A completed catch is determined by having possession of the ball with both feet down on the ground in the field of play, which Sims-Walker did.”
    The definition of a catch is two feet down and make a football related move

  9. Hey Florio, maybe you should know the rules regarding what is and isn’t a catch before declaring a play a “no-catch”. Unfortunately you are far from the only commentator who doesn’t understand the rule as they should.
    I’ll condense what Alfie correctly stated. Catch + 2 feet down + a football move = possession. A third foot down = a football move.
    Here is an example for you. In the regular field of play if a player catches the ball then takes three steps then falls down on his own and loses possession upon hitting the ground it would be a completion and a fumble. If he gets the third foot down while being tackled it is a completion and down by contact. In the end zone the third foot down equals TD, period. In this case the ref who signaled incomplete simply missed the third foot touching down. That’s why a review was necessary and appropriate.

  10. The real issue here is this guy Riveron. Take a look at his “body of work” and you will see the worst ref/crew in the NFL. Every game of his I watch has the worst examples of refs dictating the outcome of games in the league. They need to address this guy.

  11. Please Mike, hold Mr. Pereira accountable by having him reference the exact rule (or rules) that supports his statements.
    I am surprised that the media never asks for one.
    So far, this year’s rulings are not supported by any rules in the NFL official rulebook.

  12. “The Mike Sims-Walker no-catch catch”
    When are they going to review the Tom Brady no-roughing roughing calls?

  13. I liked the 3rd step translation of the official.. if the NFL is trying to reduce confusion.. it makes no sense that a receiver who has full possession in the endzone that gets tackled and releases the ball is subject to one set of rules .. but a RB who fumbles 1 inch over the endzone is a different outcome.. either make them all finish the play or all be a TD…

  14. The NFL is looking pretty foolish on this issue. There is absolutely no consistency in these calls.
    Peiria will dodge the issue on NFLN in his dorky and evasive manner and Eisen won’t push him but HE SHOULD!

  15. This is a question of common sense. If you have two feet in the endzone with possession of the ball at any point, it is a touchdown, no matter what happens after. You dont need to maintain possession after hitting the ground. Refs continually interpret this the way the want. Thats why you can reach out and pull the ball back, all the ball needs to do is be in the endzone for a split second with possession (and two feet on the ground).

  16. I wonder if they’ll explain why the refs didn’t blow the play dead on Stefan Logan’s fumbled kickoff return? His forward progress had been stopped for a good three or four seconds, and there were so many Chargers on him that he couldn’t go down if he wanted to. They quick-whistled Roethlisberger down as in the grasp earlier in the game- why not give Logan the same treatment?
    The answer- Jeff Triplette is a crappy ref.

  17. It’s amazing the contortions people (and Pereira in particular) will go to in order to convince themselves that the NFL is always right.
    If Sims-Walker made a catch and was down in the end zone, then Louis Murphy did, too. Heck, Murphy got both feet and a butt cheek down.
    But this is NOT the only thing that jerk Pereira needs to address. He also needs to address the monumentally stupid replay review of YET ANOTHER Louis Murphy catch that was taken away. It was very clear that Murphy dragged his foot to get both feet in bounds on a third-and-long reception that would have resulted in a first down. But nooooooo, the ref said. You wear silver and black, so therefore it’s not a catch.

  18. Vic Ketchman’s response from http://www.jaguars.com: Vic: It’s just officialspeak for having caught the ball, gotten both feet down in bounds and having taken a step. I knew as soon as I saw Mike’s catch on replay that it was going to be reversed to a touchdown. He demonstrated possession, got two feet down and with the step he took he made what’s called a football move. At that point, it was a touchdown. He didn’t have to control the ball to the ground. The football move he made ended the play. That’s why “three feet down” was so important in explaining the reversal.

  19. Two feet down and the catch is obvious. Possession maintained when a part of the body, other than feet or hands touch the ground. He maintained possession through the act of his elbow hitting the ground. That’s a catch. I don’t know about the three feet down thing but that would make sense, too.

  20. What some people don’t realize is not everything’s in the rule book. That makes it damned maddening for the rest of us to have to figure this stuff out.
    NFL rules say:
    “A forward pass is complete when a receiver clearly possesses the pass and touches the ground with both feet inbounds while in possession of the ball.”
    Notice that rule says nothing about the football move part. And what about the one knee equals two feet deal? What about the same foot twice?
    From Jerry Markbreit:
    “Both feet must land inbounds in order to have a successful catch. If the receiver lands on one foot and hops on the same foot so that the foot touches inbounds twice, it is an incomplete forward pass. If the receiver touches inbounds with ANY part of his body other than hands or feet, he has completed the requirement for a successful reception.”
    See that? “Any part of the body other than hands or feet”
    So, two feet = one knee = one shin = one elbow = one butt cheek.
    And NOW we throw in the whole “going to the ground” exception. Now we’ve got to define “going to the ground”. With or without defensive help? What does “after” the ground mean?

  21. Did that call really make a difference to the outcome of the game? I mean, come on. Bad calls are made all the time. It’s part of the game. (Though I believe it was the right call) There has been a bad call that has benefited all 32 teams at one point or another.

  22. The time has come for the officials to come under review for their performances from an outside agency with games being taken away for poor performances. They are effecting the outcome of games and as we saw in the NBA they are not above tweaking things to their own advantage. As far as instant replay goes get it away from the field official who is to aware of game implications to be impartial. Send all reviews to an official in a trailer or room and let him make the call. That way he doea not know if it is a test or practiice call or an actual review. His decision is forwarded to the Game official only if it is reversed otherwise game goes on.

  23. @wvugrad00: the “football move” doesn’t seem to be required in all cases (a catch along the sideline, for example), which is why I left that out. also see LightningLucci’s post.
    but yes, generally speaking, I agree with you, and in this case Sims-Walker made that “football move” you mentioned. the whole thing is a mess, and clearly the rules just need to be written in plain english.

  24. Florio,
    Would a guy who breaks a 50 yard run and dives into the end zone and as he hits the ground the ball pops out and rolls out of play be considered a touchback? Of course not. Why not? Because the player had established posession of the ball and once the ball crossed the goal line the play is over and it is a TD. Sims-Walker established possesion of the ball in the end zone (two feet down and a football move), thus the play was over when the ball was stripped away because a TD just occured. If the play had happened at the 10 yard line it would have been ruled a fumble, not an incomplete pass. You can’t cause a fumble in the end zone.

  25. You people are so dumb, there is no football move anymore they took it out two years ago. Stop being stupid and read the rule. BTW at no point did his third foot hit the ground.

  26. His elbow hits the ground before the Titans player rips the ball away. At that point he has maintained possession to the ground and the play is over. It’s a touchdown.
    Going by what the ref said, it’s the right call for the wrong reason, but it’s still the right call.

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