Calvin Johnson play won’t change the rulebook

There will not be a “Calvin Johnson Rule” added to the NFL next year.

According to Bob Glauber of Newsday, the Competition Committee has decided not to amend the current rules about maintaining possession throughout a catch.  (It’s a subscriber-only link for the 64 of you out there.  Membership growing!)

The rule came under fire in Week 1 last season after Calvin Johnson’s apparent game-winning score against the Bears was overturned.

“That play will still be incomplete,” said competition committee member John Mara, the Giants’ president and co-owner.

The committee has analyzed the play at length.  They believe making a change would be too tough to officiate.

“If you read the rule, it’s not a catch,” Mara said.  “The reason it’s not a catch is you’ve got to control the ball when you hit the ground. It makes it easier to officiate. It’s a bright line that you can draw.”

If that’s true, then why is there such disagreement on similar plays?  The official on Johnson’s play had a perfect view of the call, and signaled a touchdown.

The same ruling played a factor in the NFC Championship.  FOX’s Mike Pereira and the referee looking at the same replay on an interception at the end of the first half came to different conclusions.

If the NFL isn’t going to change the rule, they better make sure everyone understands where that bright line is.

41 responses to “Calvin Johnson play won’t change the rulebook

  1. Don’t forget that rule was brought up in a Houston-Jacksonville game. Where Kevin Walter had a similar type of play but was ruled a TD. That” rule” is tough enough to judge already, why not get rid of it? I’m still trying to figure out how Calvin’s TD was incomplete.

  2. “They believe making a change would be too tough to officiate.”

    Can it get any harder than it already is?

  3. They’re too concerned about what is “easy to officiate” and not about common sense. The rule goes against common sense. When you see the catch, you “know” it’s a catch, period. Officiating should take a backseat to the logic of the game.

  4. Ridiculous… there must be easier ways to schedule commercials than through “official’s review” of plays designed to screw-over offenses.

    Possession in-bounds and/or in the endzone=TD… shouldn’t matter if a RB, WR or QB maintains possession after he hits the ground, rolls around, stands-up, or flops backwards… having possession!

  5. The reason it’s not a catch is you’ve got to control the ball when you hit the ground.

    Well, he did have control when he HIT the ground. When he lost it was when he got up… So this guy doesn’t even understand the rule himself.

    It’s not that difficult to change.

    In control with 2 feet down, anywhere on the field = catch

    Or we could just continue to confuse the crap out of everyone including fans and owners? Yeah, let’s do that!

  6. either the run is garbage or the refs understanding of the rule is terrible. either way something needs done to address this problem. it comes up almost every week

  7. Detroit got the shaft on that call. They should’ve finished the season 7-9. Still a losing season but a hell of a lot better than they were.

    Hope Stafford can stay healthy and keep this team on the rise. Could be a Playoff sniffer this year “if” there is a season.

  8. Of course not, he plays for the Lions.

    If he played for the Steelers, Cowboys, Patriots, etc. of course it would be amended.

  9. I understand the logic of the rule outside of the endzone, since the play is still considered live.

    But in the endzone, possession plus 2 feet (or knee, elbow, left buttock, etc.) should equal a TD. Play is over. Why give the defense an incentive to deck a player in the endzone after possession is established? Should the receiver now be thinking about the quickest way out of bounds when he catches a TD?

    Greg Jennings was robbed the year before in Chicago where he caught the ball and took like 4 steps in the endzone before getting hit (already out of the back of the endzone, mind you) and losing control of the ball and it was ruled incomplete because he didn’t “control the ball to the ground”. Thankfully, the Packers still won the game so it didn’t matter.

    And it’s a weird coincidence that these are all taking place at Soldier Field. Jennings, Johnson, and I’m assuming they are talking about the Shields INT during the NFC Championship game.

  10. The NFL wants the rules to be as convoluted and confusing as possible. This enables them to justify any call with twisted logic. It also gives them leeway to change calls to benefit certain teams when necessary. Clear and easily understood rules are out of the question.

  11. Nevis, the nfl hates the steelers. Harrison got a roughing the passer call on every play. Also, did u see when haloti ngata smashed ben roethlisbergers face in and did not get a penalty? They also became the team with most penalties to win a game. 12 against the raiders

  12. Anyone saying it wasn’t a catch is totally ignoring Lance Moore’s 2-point conversion catch in the Super Bowl and Kevin Walter’s touchdown catch last season where they were ruled catches because of a “2nd act.”

    Megatron clearly made a “2nd act” when he brought the ball to the ground – almost a spike while falling down.

    Regardless of the 2nd act you just have to be flat out obtuse and hardheaded to look at that and say, “Yeah, there’s no way that should be a catch.”

  13. The actual rule states…

    If that type of catch is made by a small market team (CIN, BUF, MIN, DET, CLE, HOU, ect) versus a large market team (PIT, CHI, NYJ, NYG, NE, PHI, ect) it’s incomplete. Otherwise it’s a game winning TD.

  14. 2 hands..2 feet… THEN 1 entire leg and the left side of his upper body while holding the ball out like a loaf of bread…THEN putting on the ground.
    Are you kidding me??? John Mara’s brain is the only incomplete thing here.

  15. It’s the dumbest arbitrary officiating decision ever (except for the tuck rule)!

    If I were a defensive player, I would simply try to knock the ball out of a receiver’s hands after the conclusion of every touch down catch, and when it wasn’t ruled a “fumble” I would cry to the refs about the other guy not “maintaining full possession until next bye week,” or whenever the hell the refs are finally satisfied!

    This is insanity! Where does it end?

    If ten of us guys are sitting in a bar, and all ten of agree it’s a catch… then it’s a catch. I’m sorry is some mamby-pamby in an upstairs replay booth sees it differently.

  16. Obviously the lesson for Calvin Johnson to learn from this is to maintain tight-fisted control of the ball for however long it takes to get the TD recorded in the books.

    What bothered me, though, is that he caught another scoring pass a game or two later and almost immediately flipped the ball to a ref as if to say, “I’m going to keep doing it my way, no matter how you want to rule it.”

    It made me wonder why they didn’t take that touchdown catch away as well.

  17. I’d like to restate what many people have said here.

    Calvin Johnson did, IN FACT, have possession of the ball when he hit the ground.

    So when i read “the play will still be incomplete,” and “If you read the rule, it’s not a catch,” “The reason it’s not a catch is you’ve got to control the ball when you hit the ground.”

    It kinda makes me feel like Im Charlie Sheen.

    I am not a Lions fan, I have nothing against the Bears, its just one of those total BS calls no matter how they try to rationalize it, makes you wonder about the integrity of the game.

  18. It’s harder to fix games when the rules are clear.

    That’s why there are rules that don’t make sense.

    (IE. The Tuck Rule)

  19. Actually, the way the rule used to be called was easier to understand and implement, even with the push out rule attached. This rule is bogus, especially in the endzone. If he catches that ball at the 1 yard line and then turns over into the endzone, it’s considered a TD due to the crossing the line of the goal line being called a “secondary football move”. It’s a stupid rule that causes confusion, is never called the same way by different refs and makes no logical sense.

    I think this is simply another rule, just like many of the new objectionable hit calls, where the NFL can have so much grey area with the rules, they can call whatever they want and still make a case for making the right call. See too much of it now.

    Makes me seriously wonder if Vegas is running the NFL, just like came out in many other sports over the years. Sounds funny, but it really wouldn’t take much if you already have the rules set up to control games. All you’d need after that is a ref here and there mixed with a coach or coaching assistant to call the right plays at the right time and, viola, game rigged. Not saying it is, but holding onto rules consistently that have so much grey area which allows them to control games, if they want, sure makes a person wonder.

  20. Even within the context of the current rule, personally, I still interpret calvin’s catch…as A CATCH.

    yes I agree, you have to maintain possession to the ground, but what makes Calvin’s case so ridiculous is the simple fact he had hit the ground, literally rolled on his arse and then the ball came out…

    when is “to the ground” really “to the ground” should be the question. I mean you have these intricate replays on a player running with the ball, his knee cap grazing the turf one instant before the ball gets ripped out by a defender, but its not a fumble because the player was “down by contact”…however calvin catches a ball, 2 feet, a leg, and arse cheek down, no defender is the cause of the ball coming out, the GROUND is what caused it, and its not a catch????

    once a player has possession, and has his feet down it should be a catch, if he’s falling, just like with every other circumstance, once a knee or elbow touches any sort of blade of grass, and a defender has touched the player during that process…the player is DOWN BY CONTACT. if the player is in the endzone, the split second when that players knee/elbow/arse/etc hits the ground its a touchdown…


    again…my issue is more with the interpretation than anything else, because as the rule stands, i interpret that as being a catch.

  21. it blows my mind that a player can be running with the ball leap straight out of bounds while reaching out, have the tip of the ball pass over the outer corner of the pilon while the player’s body is completely extended in the air out of bounds near the 4 yard line, and its a touchdown

    but catching the ball, clearly having possession, 2 feet down, the side of your leg and arse cheek hit the ground…and somehow thats not “maintaining possession to the ground” and NOT A TOUCHDOWN

  22. motownlion says:
    Mar 14, 2011 12:48 PM
    Detroit got the shaft on that call. They should’ve finished the season 7-9. Still a losing season but a hell of a lot better than they were.
    Actually by my count the Lions got screwed by the refs in 4 total games last season. And in all of them the bad/call(s) changed the outcome in favor of their opponents. So by all rights the Lions shod have finished 10-6 and made the playoffs.

  23. The question is why was the call on the field (Touchdown!!) changed BEFORE the replay? Had the play been called a TD and then reviewed, there wouldn’t have been enough video evidence to overturn it. Since it was inexplicably changed to an incomplete pass before the booth review, of course it wasn’t overturned for the same reason.

    Can you say “FIXED” anyone?

  24. In the Vikings Bears game Sidney Rice caught a pass in the end zone fell on his butt, had complete control while on his but in the end zone and then fell back. His shoulders landed out of bounds and the ball jarred loose. The play was originally called a TD but after review was over turned and ruled incomplete. First of all he had control when his but hit, that alone should have been the end of the play. Second He had control as soon as his but hit and the second his shoulders hit out of bounds. If the player has control before going out of bounds then and has control the instant any part of the body falls out of bounds it should be a dead ball and a completion and in this case a TD. As long as there is control before going out of bounds what happens after is irrelevant.
    Calvin Johnson and the Lions were totally robbed as were several other during the season. The league needs to get rid of the conclusive evidence part of replay and let the officials be human, look at it and say yes that is the way I saw it on the field and the call stands or oops I missed that and change the call.

  25. Lesson to players. Stop hot dogging and remove all doubt of a TD catch by holding the ball in the air. Stop celebrating BEFORE crossing the goalline while you’re at too.u

  26. Slow-motion plays tricks with this one.

    It was one continuous motion. He came to the ground twisting and the ball hit at the end of it. He didn’t go down, sit there, pick his nose, think about what he was going to have for dinner, turn over and get back up. It was a twisting, continuous motion, and at the end the ball came out.

    (And let’s not forget he made a move to re-collect the ball after it came out. If he was really just setting it down, he wouldn’t have done that)

    Even though it should have been a catch, even the bad, bad, bad, awful rules that should have been removed from the game an hour after the super bowl ended have to be followed. It followed the rule.

    Now it’s time to get rid of it. Maybe the lockout will give them extra time to do this.

  27. Happened to Louis Murphy. Happened to Calvin Johnson. Happened to Jennings, but I bet it will never happen to anyone wearing a New England Patriot uniform!

  28. The Louis Murphy play to open the season a couple of years a go against the Chargers was the worst of all. Watch it on Youtube (if it’s still available). He came down with two feet, one knee, his thigh, his butt, his back, and finally his elbow. The ball wiggled slightly, and No TD. What a sham!

  29. I just watched the play like six times. The referees called it by the book. Absolutely, that was NOT a catch. There are three qualifiers that he must satisfy in that catch.

    1) Catch with possession inbounds [check]
    2) 2 (or more) feet down [check]
    3) Complete possession through his fall [Nope]

    He clearly hits the ball off of the ground and loses it as he completes the catch. It was not the fact that he dropped it when he got up, the ball was clearly pressed against his hand by THE GROUND then it pops out.

    Then he drops it before he ever finishes falling…

    The proof is here:

  30. Like Pereira said, “The one thing I would take out is ‘after,'” Pereira said, “because the rule states you have to hold onto the ball after you hit the ground. Maybe you say you have to hold onto the ball when you hit the ground.” One word change, super simple.

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