Tom Coughlin sees inconsistency in the Calvin Johnson rule


Add Tom Coughlin to the list of people who think the NFL applies the Calvin Johnson rule inconsistently.

In the third quarter of Sunday’s game against the Bills, Giants quarterback Eli Manning launched a beautiful pass to Mario Manningham in the end zone. Manningham grabbed it briefly but had it knocked away as he fell to the ground. That’s an incomplete pass, as everyone who knows the Calvin Johnson rule knows.

But as we’ve mentioned, not all of the officials in the NFL seem to know the Calvin Johnson rule. So Coughlin decided to challenge the ruling on the field, hoping that he could benefit from an inconsistent application of the Calvin Johnson rule.

“I know what the rule is, blah, blah, blah,” Coughlin explained afterward. “It was the right call, but in a situation like that I felt justified, knowing pretty much that I was probably going to lose it.”

In other words, Coughlin was willing to challenge a play, risking a timeout in the second half of a close game, not because he thought he was right, but because he thought the referee might get the call wrong.

As it turned out, referee Clete Blakeman confirmed the ruling on the field, and offered as good an explanation as you’re going to get of the Calvin Johnson rule from an NFL referee.

“After reviewing the play, the receiver was in the process of going to the ground while he was attempting to make the catch,” Blakeman announced. “When he hit the ground he lost control of the ball. Therefore, by rule, it is an incomplete pass.”

But while Blakeman got it exactly right according to the letter of the rule, Coughlin said he has seen the rule applied differently in other games, and he’s still waiting on an answer from the league about it.

“I’m certain they’re taking a hard look,” Coughlin said. “Normally they just verify that, ‘This was the right call and this is the way all the calls should have been made.’ I am sure they will.”

But while the NFL will certainly confirm that the officials got it right on the Manning-to-Manningham incompletion, what the NFL still hasn’t done is figure out a way to get the Calvin Johnson rule applied consistently across the board.

31 responses to “Tom Coughlin sees inconsistency in the Calvin Johnson rule

  1. “Add Tom Coughlin to the list of people who think the NFL applies the Calvin Johnson rule inconsistently.”


    That list now includes:

    1) everyone

  2. If they applied the rule in the manner in which it was originally intended, there would be no issues. The rule was written for clarification on complete or incomplete for players who leave their feet to make a catch and DO NOT RETURN to their feet…basically a diving catch. For those players who jump up, catch the ball, land on both feet, and then lose possession of the ball due to contact or falling down AFTER coming down with both feet in the end zone and the ball firmly in their possession, the rule shouldn’t be applied.

    As a side note, if the ground cannot cause a fumble, why can it cause an incompletion?

  3. In addition I think the whole “what constitutes a catch needs to be addressed”

    Why is it different depending on where you are on the field. There shouldn’t be different rules in the end zone then on the sideline, as to crossing the pylon? Please define what a catch is, and that should be a catch anywhere on the field!

    The one I saw last week, and where the WR couldn’t get both feet down, but got the same foot down twice…..IMO that should have been a catch, otherwise if I’m a DB anyone who has to leave their feet to catch a pass, I’ll just grab one leg, while in the air” and force them to one leg hop out of bounds…….by the rule it shouldn’t be a catch because they didn’t get their second foot down.

  4. The whole rule is stupid. If you catch the ball, it should be a catch and not dependent on some DB arriving late after getting beaten but being able to force the ball out after making a late tackle.

  5. Add me to the list of people who think that NFL game officials are woefully inconsistent and inadequate every Sunday, and the league’s replay review system is a joke.


    That list now includes:

    1) everyone, except the NFL rules committee.

  6. So Coughlin challenges a call he knows was right, on the hope that the official will misinterpret the rule and overturn the correct call?

    And people call Bill Belichick “unethical”?????

  7. Oh, and add me to the list of people who think that if Calvin Johnson had just tucked that ball away, like he’s been taught since Pop Warner, then there would be no issue here.

  8. I’m confused. If they had ruled it a catch it would have automatically been reviewed as a scoring play. But since it was ruled incomplete the coach has to challenge because it wasn’t a scoring play. How about they make that rule that any play in the end zone is automatically reviewed.

  9. Manningham wasn’t given a TD because he didnt maintain possession after hitting the ground.

    Yet, Victor Cruz was given a TD against the Eagles when he caught the ball at the goal line, even though he didn’t maintain possession to the ground since he was ruled to have already crossed the goal line.

    Seems like they are ruling it that if you are in the process of crossing the line, you just need to break the plain, while if you catch it in the end zone you have to maintain it for a certain period of time.

  10. Couglin needs to balance his feelings about the rule being applied inconsistently with his desire to not be fined for being critical of the officials.

    It would be nice if he could exercise his rights to free speech but his employer is the NFL…

    … oh wait, no its not.

  11. Here is a thought. Find the person who can defend the implantation of the rule with passion. That would be a shorter list.

  12. It was a catch. If you don’t like it, too bad. The refs don’t truly know the rule through and through, although the explanation with Mario’s catch was thorough enough.

    And those taking veiled shots at Eli, jode tu.

  13. It’s such a wierd rule. You would think that after landing four feet and a knee in the endzone with the ball, it would not matter what Manningham did when he hit the ground. But by rule, the pass was incomplete.

  14. The NFL has too many rules, rule exceptions, nuanced rules, and it makes the officials job harder. And the officials already suck to begin with. Get better refs and streamline the rules.

  15. Everyone watching Johnson’s catch last year thought it was a catch. He got two feet down with control. He was not juggling the ball when he was going to the ground. He completed the catch. Why does there need to be a special rule if the player went to the ground? Dumb.

    There are a lot of dumb rules in the NFL. Horrible inconsistency in calls and/or non-calls on pass interference and illegal contact. Tuck rule. Defenseless player. Kickoff at 35. Instant replay is getting annoying too. The NFL is getting difficult to watch with all the stupid rules, bad calls, penalty flags, and delays.

  16. That rule was meant for diving catches and it makes sense in that context. Now its being applied to leaping catches and that’s where it gets all f’d up. With a diving attempt, the catch and hitting the ground happen in rapid succession, making it difficult to see the catch. On CJs catch, everyone saw him catch the ball. His hands were 11 feet in the air.

    He didn’t go to the ground to make the catch. He made the catch THEN went to the ground (as megatron has not yet defeated the laws of physics).

    I didn’t see the manningham play but it almost sounds like the ball was knocked out before he landed. If so, that’s different.

    It should be catch, two feet, touchdown.

  17. The rule was always absurd , and flew in the face of everything we knew about the rules of football for 80 years. Simply change it back to this: If you have possession of ball in end zone and A) two feet down or B) Elbow or leg or butt or back down, the play is OVER and it’s a TD. No more defensive guy that didn’t cover well enough knocks it away three seconds later, no more he lost it after he rolled over three times and was out of the end zone. Just the same rules that always apply to the end of a play; if you have possession with the parts of your body down that signal the end of a play; that’s it, play over, TD!

  18. @Mr.Wright212
    It WASN’T a catch and if you don’t like it too bad for you. Did they count it, I didn’t think so. You might want to come to grip a little reality. Whether you like it or not, the call was incomplete. My only question is the Crabtree catch. Not that this would happen BUT, say someone caught the ball on the 10, a DB grabbed his foot in mid air and he hops to the endzone, that’s not a catch. I would love that to happen and watch the refs congregate for 10 minutes just to call it complete, that would be great.

  19. “blah, blah, blah”? Does he know that Manningham stepped out of bounds on the 13 and it was placed at the 5? He doesn’t complain when it goes his way, does he?

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