“Dez Bryant rule” doesn’t mesh with expectations of players, fans


Yes, the provision previously known as the “Calvin Johnson rule” and now perhaps more properly known as the “Dez Bryant rule” was applied correctly (subject to a caveat mentioned below).  The problem is that the rule fails to mesh with the reasonable expectations of football fans.

As applied to Bryant, the outcome flows from three different aspects of Rule 8, Section 1.  Article 3 of the rule explains that a pass is completed when he secures control of the ball with his hands or arms, touches the ground with both feet or any other body part (other than his hands), and maintains control long enough to allow him to perform “any act common to the game,” which includes having the ball long enough to “pitch it, pass it, advance with it, or avoid or ward off an opponent.”

Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 1 explains that when a player is going to the ground in the act of catching a pass, he must maintain control “throughout the process of contacting the ground.”  Per Item 4, “If the ball touches the ground after the player secures control of it, it is a catch, provided that the player continues to maintain control.”

Read together, the language meshes with what happened on Sunday (subject to a caveat mentioned below).  Bryant went to the ground in the act of catching a pass, the ball hit the ground, and he lost control of it.

But it looked like a catch to the average, reasonable football coach, player, fan, etc.  That’s the real issue; it looked like a catch, and then we were told it wasn’t a catch.  The challenge for the NFL as to this and every other rule becomes ensuring that the rules mesh with the commonsensical expectations of folks playing, coaching, and/or watching the game.

A separate issue that hasn’t gotten much attention is whether indisputable visual evidence existed to support overturning every aspect of the ruling on the field.  Yes, it’s clear the ball struck the ground.  But is it indisputable that Bryant failed to complete the act by making a so-called “football move,” especially since it appeared Bryant was reaching forward with the ball as he was going to the ground.

In past cases, that football move (previously dubbed by former NFL V.P. of officiating Mike Pereira as a “second act“) is enough to complete the catch.  In the last game of Pereira’s stint as V.P. of officiating, the “second act” exception gave the Saints a key two-point conversion in Super Bowl XLIV, as receiver Lance Moore caught a pass while going to the ground, reached the ball across the plane, hit the ground, and lost possession.

If the term “second act” is synonymous with “football move,” the ultimate question as to the Dez Bryant player becomes whether there was indisputable visual evidence that he didn’t commit a football move or second act.  If the visual evidence was not indisputable, the ruling on the field should have been confirmed.

236 responses to ““Dez Bryant rule” doesn’t mesh with expectations of players, fans

  1. If he wasn’t reaching out to cross the plane of the goal line i would agree it wasn’t a catch. However he caught it and in a distinct motion reached out to cross the plane. That was clearly a second move after the catch

  2. Everyone knows it was a catch, but the referees had to wipe the proverbial egg off their faces from last week’s supposedly bad call in the Detroit game. Dallas had a great season, if anyone said they would’ve been 2 games from the Super Bowl in July they would’ve been laughed at. That being said, HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS!

  3. It’s a moronically conceived rule, much like the Tuck Rule.

    Thing is, the (“non-profit”) NFL is extremely profitable … often in spite of itself. This but another example.

  4. I can’t stand the Cowboys and I can read the rule, but can someone please tell me why is not more logical that at some point (oh, I don’t know perhaps when the receiver has control of the ball and two feet in bounds!) the receiver becomes a runner for the purpose of the rules? Doesn’t this make much more sense?

    Bryant catches the ball, two feet are clearly down with possesion, he takes three stumbling steps and lunges to the goal line. Why don’t the rules consider him as if he were running the ball??

  5. Haven’t heard much about the rule since Calvin Johnson got burned. Receivers learned to wrap the ball up if going to the ground as part of the catch.

    Dez didn’t learn from other’s experience, so he had to learn the hard way.

    Leave the rule as it is, it is black and white and the NFL has too many judgment calls that allow the refs to influence the game.

  6. He appears to be making a second act in slo-mo only. You’re talking about a tenth of a second from the time the ball touches his hands till he hits the ground. Nobody is that fast. If it’s something he’s trained himself to do, extend while going to the ground, that’s still not a second act, but the process of going to the ground. Watch the Calvin Johnson play. That looks much more like a catch.

  7. Honestly, this doesn’t matter anyways. The packers moved right on down the field and would have easily won the game whether Dallas scored or not. Everyone is hung up on this play as if it really decided the game, when it really didn’t matter either way. The Packers marched right on down the field and downed it to win the game.

  8. The only apparent “Dez Bryant Rule” seems to be that he can charge the field without his helmet and argue with referees any time he wants. All other players would be subject to a pesky 15-yd unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

  9. Am I the only person in the world who is confused about why this is a big deal? In the process of catching it, it hit the ground before he had full control. No catch.

    So what now? If a QB skips a ball on the turf and the receiver catches it on the bounce it should be a catch? Because you’re talking about virtually the same thing.

    It was not a catch. The ball hit the ground and was moving.

    Why is there so much talk about something so obvious? Oh right, because its the cowboys and everyone knows this was romos one shot and they’ll be back to 8-8 next year.

  10. They have messed about with this rule so many times nobody knows what a catch is anymore. My biggest beef about the rule is this; if the ball hits the ground at anytime it is NOT a catch!!!! This is the only sport I know of where if the ball hits the ground it can still be considered good!!!

  11. Anyway, I actually think this play comes down to Dez Bryant electing to make a ‘reach’ with the football (to get into the end zone) during a time when he perhaps should have realized he needed to fully secure the reception to the ground. I think if he simply decided against the ‘reach’ move he would have had a reception– because he caught it. He just blew it with that extra stuff. I guess also that a ‘reach’ doesn’t count as a football move when going to the ground.

    It happens, much like players who, after achieving a first down, inexplicably cough it up afterwards trying to reach for that few more inches while being tackled.

  12. Not a Cowboys fan or Packer fan…it just sucked as a fan of some drama in a game I enjoy watching. Not too mention the talent that guys like Dez, Calvin, Moss have over the normal WRs in the league.

    Abolish this crappy rule like the Tuck BS that was abolished in 2013.

  13. Move on, get over it already, just like you told the Detroit Lions fans. Be thankful you made it this far, Referees are not always going be your 12th man. Lol !

  14. Ask yourself this question.

    If a defender would have knocked the ball loose prior to the ball getting knocked loose by the ground….would you be ok with that being called a fumble? Because if you’re going to argue that it was a reception…then you need to also be ok with it being called a fumble if it was knocked out by a defender.

    I think that most certainly have been called an incompletion and NOT a fumble had it been knocked loose by a defender.

  15. The slow motion replay shows that Dez put one arm down while reaching forward with the ball in the other arm. Additionally, you can see the divot kicked up as he attempted to launch himself to the goal line with his last step. Clearly he is making a post catch effort to cross the goal line for a TD. If the ‘second act’ is needed to make this a catch, then I don’t know how the replay booth found indisputable evidence to overturn the call on the field.

  16. Calvin Johnson decided to leave the ball on the ground:Dez Bryant dropped the ball when it hit the ground.

    one of those is worse than the other to call incomplete

  17. so I guess from now on when someone reaches out for the goal line and fumbles it should be called a fumble right? refs blew it! dez made a football period!

  18. It also looked like TJ Lang was blocking downfield for his WR and the AFTER that some Dallas player throws our WR to the ground and 3 Dallas players push TJ Lang out of bounds and try to beat him up. Yet, the only foul on the play is called against TJ. If not for that, we score a TD and game over.

    The calls are what the calls are. You accept them and move on. Sheesh, what a bunch of crybabies.

  19. One thing everybody forgets; it was no catch by rule not screw up (thanks Pete Morelli) and had it been a catch-it would still have been incumbent on the Cowboy defense to stop the Packer offense something they did not accomplish in the 4th qtr inclduing the Packers burning off the final 4 minutes of clock!

  20. In the Lance Moore example the ball never hit the ground and was extended across the goalline…so the play was “over” once he had possession, body part down and across the goal.

    Dez, never maintained possession through the contact with the ground. It’s unfortunately called properly and I don’t think they will change it because then it would be even more difficult to make judgement on catches/non-catches.

  21. I’m tired of being inundated with articles, tweets, posts, etc. on the Monday after something like this happens, which coincidentally, feels like every week nowadays. The rules in general, not only this one, need to be simplified and clear. These things make being a fan exhausting sometimes.

  22. Just like everything else involving the NFL nowadays, the rules have been screwed with too many times.

    The NFL needs to simplify the rules, period.

  23. Dez Bryant was reaching for the goal line to try to score. That was the second act. The only way you can call that incomplete is if you are saying the reach was unintentional. Is there indisputable video evidence to say it was not an intentional reach? Not at all.

  24. Yeah, I really don’t think you can say that he went to the ground “in the act of catching a pass” , and there certainly isn’t indisputable evidence of it. He went to the ground diving for the end zone after he had caught the pass. He traveled something like 7 yards with the ball in his hands – I think that counts as “advancing with it”.

  25. Look it up yourself. The ball was kicked out of Lance Moore’s hands in the Super Bowl, he DID NOT lose control after it hit the ground.
    As MANY have pointed out, Dez Bryant should have just gone to the ground and NOT try to stretch the ball out in order to score. Bryant’s “catch” was NOT a clear cut catch and run, where the ground can’t cause a fumble. Yes, I HATE the Cowboys but I’m not a hater. Even if my Saints were in this situation, I would still maintain that it WAS NOT a catch.

  26. No the Dez Bryant rule should be where a players is ejected from the game for running on the field without a helmet to argue with an official.

    At the very least Dez Bryant needs to be fined for running on the field again to argue a call. The next time he should be suspended. Sick of him getting way with crap. He acts like such a child.

  27. So the real problem, continues to be that the NFL’s rules are so convoluted that something that seems so easy to judge becomes more like figuring out a math problem.

    One more example that pro football has turned into the No Fun Legue.

  28. I hate the Cowboys, but that seemed a really tough way to lose. I’d have been upset if they had ruled that way against my team, as I bet most fans would have.

    The Cowboys did not get that call to go their way. Thats a shame but hats off to the Packers for a good game!

  29. Can’t “going toward the goal line” be considered a football act?

    Regardless that his momentum was in that direction, in Dez’s mind, his goal was to break the plane and after he caught the ball (he clearly did) his intent was to continue driving toward that plane.

    Breaking the plane is what football is all about. That’s what Dez was going for. How can anyone dispute that?

  30. The way Blandino explained it, Bryant didn’t make it “obvious” that he was trying to reach for the endzone. The way his body fell after making the catch made it look like he was still in the act of completing the catch (according to him). Many of us actually disagree with that — he was trying to dive for the end zone in the same act of completing the catch. When he caught it, he took two steps, then fell, only because he was trying to score.

    To me that makes it a subjective call, and not one fairly interpreted by the actual rule. I say this only because people looked at this same play and are interpreting it differently. That shouldn’t happen in any sport. There needs to be some sort of clarification, and maybe at some point a modification, which defines what a “football move” consists of and how to make it known you are making a football move. Because quite honestly I saw a player get robbed of making a great effort.

  31. If you don’t like the rules of the game, that’s a very sound platform to make an argument about this.

    If you know the rules, and you have funtional eyes, a TV, and it was on FOX at the time of this play, AND you were watching the TV you have on fox with your eyes, I don’t really understand what you are talking about if you say it should have been rules a catch.

    If the rules weren’t what they are, then sure.

  32. 3 steps is a long time to not be considered a football move, considering he clearly had the ball and proceeded to attempt to get a TD by stretching out (a football move once he got control of the ball?).

    On the other hand, all 3 of those steps where while he was also falling to the ground, thus making it have the whole “through the ground” bit, right?

    Either way this ruling went, it was a tough one. I think they got it right according to the rules…

    But that doesn’t make it right.

  33. As a Lions fan, I cannot be more ecstatic that the “Calvin Johnson” rule came back to bite Dez in the butt.

    How about you catch the ball Dez instead of crying about a rule change. Just like how you ran 10 yards onto the field 2 Sundays ago to argue with a ref about a pass interference call and you weren’t flagged.

    Just like I say to other Lions fans that continue to cry about the refs screwing us, “We had our chances to win the game and we didn’t.”

    Take a note of that Dez.

  34. It’s a moronically conceived rule, much like the Tuck Rule.

    Thing is, the (“non-profit”) NFL is extremely profitable … often in spite of itself. This but another example.

  35. This rule is like the tuck rule. Everybody hates it but it was enforced correctly.

    If you want the rule changed, flood the league office and the business office of your team with calls, emails and old fashioned letters sent through the post office and let them know how much you hate it.

  36. It did not look very controversial to me. Dez never established possession of the ball as he fell to the ground because the ball bounced off the ground which caused it to fall onto Dez’s lap in the endzone. If the ball had not touched the ground, it’s clearly a catch. Since it did, no catch.

    It’s well established the ball cannot hit the ground when making a catch particularly if there is ball ‘movement’.

    Anyways, #Karma

  37. We got this rule because because of Bert Emanuel in 1999. These plays are at extreme ends. I’d rather Bryant’s be a catch and Emanuel’s not, in the grand scheme of things. It’s hard to write rules that will take every possible happenstance into account, but Bryant’s play had more athleticism and “footballness” than Emanuel’s. But the rule, in general, seems to be that a pass is a play where the offense suspends ownership of the ball, it’s literally up in the air and is anyone’s for the taking, so long as they “complete the catch through the ground”. This would apply to either the offense or defense trying to make a play on the ball. Someone has to clearly repossess the ball, and football has the two-feet/one knee built into the rules, so it prefers that a player repossess the ball while clearly on the ground. They made a concession by letting the ball hit the ground, but in so doing they don’t let the ball move around.

    So, in the end, I guess I’d rather go to a rule where if the ball touches the ground during repossessing the ball and before establishing control of the body on the field, it should be incomplete. I guess neither pass (Bryant or Emanuel) would have been a reception. But it seems a lot clearer of a rule that way. Like the old push out rule allowed refs to say it would have been a catch, but they did away with that. It’s reasonably clear if two feet got in or not. Two in – reception, one out – no reception. If the ball hits the ground when the receiver/interceptor lands on the ground – no catch. No esoteric “football” moves need be considered.

    But, as I said, Bryant had more footballness to it than the one that set up the modern rule in the first place.

  38. Cowboys got jobbed. That catch shouldn’t have been overturned. He secured the ball as he went down to the ground. The ball can hit the ground as long as the receiver has full control of it and it was. The ball hit the ground with full control then came lose but landed on top of him, so it should have been a catch period. If I were Jones, I’d sue the league.

  39. I like the rule. Yes, you have to hold on to the ball for more than 10 milliseconds. I also hate it when receivers catch the ball and them immediately throw it on the ground. Hold on to the ball! Simple.

  40. Im over this already… when people stumble, do they take a couple of steps to try to recover but still fall anyway… yes! does a man running at full speed jumping up in the air while still floating in the same direction try to get his feet down while still falling? Yes. Dez first caught the ball in his hands, then the ball was hit loose by shields. The ball juggles to Dez’s shoulder, then his arm, his still trying to get control of the ball as it hits the ground, It then pops up into the air where Dez finally secures it in his hands out of bounds. If it was a good catch, it would have stayed in his hands the first time not moving all over the place.

    But lets get real cowboy fans… Why is no one complaining about the first PI of the game? The boys were stopped, Romo sends a hail mary to the end zone that is so far over teh receivers head that its an uncatchable ball. the receivers feet hit Williams and a BS PI flag is thrown. The ball is placed at the one and the boys score their first gimmie TD! If that BS call did not go the cowboys way, this call wouldn’t even be a conversation.

    Not to mention that your star receiver ran out onto the field with no helmet to complain about the call for the second week in a row!!

    Then the fact that Rodgers went right back to work carving your team up to put us in field goal range to take a knee… you know the 3 points the packers would have needed to win the game if you had scored on that play.

    It was a good game, the cowboys got some calls and got some against them… the Dez call was accurate and you lost.

  41. Huge Cowboys fan here…

    The rule is stupid but by the rule it is not a catch but my question is this…

    He made 2-3 steps and then reached for the endzone making a “football move”…but they said he did not complete the catch…so then my next point is … they called it a catch on the field

    When the ball came loose I still havent seen a replay or photo of the ball hitting the ground to cause it to come loose…so if there is no evidence to overturn it…should it still not be a catch??? I know the ball popped up but we don’t actually see how…you can tell me all day that the ball hit the ground but until i see a replay or photo that shows that I still think its a catch and it should not have been overturned…

    With that said…it was a hard fought game and it was a good game that unfortunately someone had to lose and it was the Cowboys…Good luck to Green Bay and the other three teams left and I hope the super bowl is a competitive one in Feb

  42. Seemed pretty obvious the ‘football’ move was him reaching for the goal line after taking 3 steps with ball secured???

    The ruling on the field was obviously they thought he wasn’t making a football move and needed to complete the act of the catch.

    The rule is dumb anyways, but I still believe they got it wrong even after looking at it based on my first point.

    I guess he should have curled up in a ball after catching it instead of trying to score.

    Dumb dumb call.

    Citing Rule this, article that, section blah blah, page whatever is eveidence enough the refs/rules are ruining the game of football.

  43. Dallas fan here. The bottom line is this: Dallas fans feel like we got jobbed, people that hate Dallas will say we didn’t, or possibly “karma”.

    Regardless of whether the call was correct or not, the indisputable fact is that Dallas did not put the game out of reach when they had a chance. If you play the game close enough that the refs are allowed to decide the outcome by one or more controversial calls, you have no one to blame but yourselves. Dallas did exactly that. It sucks, but thats the reality of it.

    Great season Dallas. I hope next year is even better.

  44. The rule doesn’t really matter. There will always be a threshold of when a catch becomes a legit catch. Changing the rule would only amount to moving the finish line.

  45. Given that Dez plays in the NFL and is bound by their rules… the “reach” was the gamble he chose to make, and he paid for it.

    Dez couldve easily tucked the ball in, secured it, gone down at the 1 yard line and had his team in position. HE CHOSE to try to reach out, deciding that making that extra half yard on that play was worth taking the ball away from his secured control with his body, and out into the dangerzone of “reaching” the ball out.

    Anyone who has ever played football knows about this situation. You risk losing the ball if you reach for more yardage. Just like you risk a personal foul if you run all over the field yelling at officials with your helmet off. You win some, you lose some.

    Dez made a reckless error by reaching there. it was a gamble, and he lost. If the rule was different, may not have even been such a gamble on the risk-reward scale. But as it is, any rational player watching himself and that play will be left thinking “wow I shouldn’t have tried to reach there, that was a bad decision and it cost my team much more than I could’ve possible gained by the best possible outcome of the reach.”

  46. Bottom line is this, folks, the refs can mix and match the rules as they see fit in order for them to win all the bets they made in Las Vegas during the week. Easy money – the joke’s on us.

  47. It meshes with my understanding and version of the rule. Just because it’s Dallas doesn’t mean you can land on the ground in the act of making a catch and have the ball pop loose. If that was Jeremy Maclin in Dallas and the same played happened we would have seen Dez and the Cowboys crying the other way.

  48. “Why is there so much talk about something so obvious?”

    Because the nanny state and attorneys running the country have turned us into a nation of victims. Nobody just says “we lost fair and square to a better team”, its always the refs, league, other team etc “cheated” them out of the win somehow.

    If the Pats lose next weekend I will be here congratulating Colts fans, not crying about the refs, no matter what happens.

  49. See if Dez had caught the ball and not tried to be a star and just brought it into his body he would not have lost control and the cowboys would have had the ball first and goal around the 3 or 4 yard line lots of time and a back that could in a down or two score this would have been a sure thing and eaten more time off the clock.

    His attempt at stardom bit him in the behind hence his failure to help his team.

  50. Dez isn’t and wasn’t the only player to run onto the field to argue a call this year or any other. The “50 drunks in a bar” comment is funny, funnier when I heard it on Mike and Mike this morning, but still funny. The game was not fixed “home cooking.” It was a great game, and congratulations Packers. Dallas Fan!

  51. (didnt’ read every comment posted)

    BUT i saw it as not only did he catch it and control it with one hand, but on landing, turned and pushed into ground to get up and ‘running’ away to celebrate thus looking like he gave it up, him thinking it was a TD.. which to most …it was.

    Some coaches teach players to hold on to the ball and GIVE BACK to the ref

    had he practiced that and did that… no doubt a TD…

    again I say he thought he had a TD as a result of catching and holding it well enought with CONTROL and gave it up once on the ground

  52. Disregarding the current rules, Dez established a catch, then fumbled the ball into the end zone (and consequently rolled out of bounds) before breaking the plane, therefore, Dallas should have possessed the ball at the one yard line.

    The question is, if Dez broke the plane prior to losing possession of the ball, would have that counted as a TD? I get that receiving the ball in the end zone and then dropping it during the process of the catch (i.e. current rule) would have result in an incompletion, but I believe breaking the plane takes precedence over whatever occurs afterword. We see this all the time when player reach over the plane then lose the ball right after… this is not regarded as a fumble since the ball broke plane and therefore takes precedence. I would hope the same applies in this situation.

    So if Dez was a few feet closer to the end zone, that would (or should have) been a TD. But I doubt this whole situation would have mattered considering the time left on the clock for Rodgers.

  53. ball hit the ground -> incomplete pass!

    Remember last week the cowboys got helps from the zebras? I guess this week dr. Jones forgot to invite the head of referee into his bus…

  54. So it goes like this.

    Last week the Lions were hosed.

    This week the broncos were hosed with the fumble, and the cowboys with the dez catch ( I hate the cowboys and packers but that doesn’t change that dez caught that ball).

    We are down to four teams, so which one gets hosed by the NFL’s incompetent rules/refs this week?

    Thats where vegas should be placing odds.

  55. Someone sounds bitter because he lost money on the boys. Give it up.

    If MD Jennings didn’t catch the ball, neither did Dez.

  56. In EVERY game of the divisional-round weekend, officiating was simply NON EXISTENT… Not just this one Dez Bryant play, though that might have been the crescendo of it all. The NFL should be more embarrassed by the crap product they put out this weekend than they should both the Ray Rice and AP incidents this season.

  57. BTW, once again Dez wandering around on the field complaining to the refs with no helmet – no penalty.

  58. This is the unintended consequence/by-product of instant replay…the guys with leather helmets would have called that a TD all day long, instead we get a forensics team, physicists and high-res satellite photos

  59. funny thing is if Dez broke the plane of the goal line with the ball in his hand it would have been a TD. He had a grip on the ball.

  60. As ALL the Cowboys fans said last week, “the Lions(had their chances)”. Well, the Cowboys had their chances. 3rd and 1 and Linehan decides to throw the ball; Dan Bailey missed a 45 yard FG and when that play was blown dead, he missed a 50 yarder; the Murray fumble; 2 sacks of Romo when the Cowboys were in FG position. 4th and 2 from the GB 32 and they throw it again. Much has been made of the holding artists–sorry, the Dallas GREAT OL; but when they had to get 1 or 2 yards they decided to pass the ball instead of running it. Jones tried to be magnanimous in defeat saying these are the rules, but he had to be chafing seeing as how his team benefitted from some very questionable officiating last week.

  61. I don’t like the rule, but the pass was incomplete. Like it or not, it is the rule and the Cowboys will watch the Packers play the Seahawks next weekend.

  62. There’s just no reason for the rule. If you catch the ball and get two feet down in bounds, it’s a catch. Why do you have to maintain control of it forever? If you catch it on the sideline with two feet in, immediately step out of bounds, then drop the ball on the ground, is it a catch or not? Of course it’s a catch. Why is it different if you’re in bounds? Bryant had three feet down in bounds. Why do we need the unnecessary complication of “a second act” or “a football move”? You catch the ball, get two feet in, it’s a catch!

  63. The rule is right and has to stay. If you change the rule than what is a catch becomes open to interpretation and we have a larger grey area. Control the ball and you have nothing to worry about. If he had caught the ball than why did it pop out of his hands?

  64. The more I watch it, the less empathy for the Cowboys and Dez Bryant I feel. Granted, as a Packers fan, I did not have much empathy to begin with.

    He doesn’t catch the ball. End of story. It was a fantastic, leaping, acrobatic, non-catch. They happen a lot. Especially at half-time with the dog-catching-frisbee show. And the significance of that play in this game is the equivalent.

    Boo-hoo-hoo all you want, but no one was robbed. No one was jobbed. The game was pretty fairly referee-ed. If anything, a significant number of subjective penalties/calls went the Cowboys way throughout the game (i.e. two pass interference calls against Tramon Williams). And an early, third down penalty against Brad Jones (defensive holding, rightly called) should have been negated by an illegal man downfield call (watch the replay, Zack Martin #70 is 3 yards downfield at the time of the pass).

    Really, the true story was the gritty performance by the Packers defense, bottling up the hottest offense in football. The fact that several no-name players – Datone Jones, Nick Perry, Letroy Guion, Mike Neal – and several big name – Julius Peppers, Mike Daniels, CMIII – battled the vaunted Cowboys offensive line to a draw. And the Packers defensive secondary – with the exception of one terrific play by Terrence Williams – limited Romo to throwing underneath almost the entire game.

    The Packers offense did stuff too, but they were supposed to. The fact that they came out slow and even shows how significant the Packers defensive performance was.

  65. Storylines of game:

    Phantom PI on Tramon gifts Dallas TD

    Cobb gets 6 catches for 117 yds

    Davante Adams gets 7 catches for 116 yds

    Rodgers plays on one leg

    Peppers causes 2 fumbles, 1 sack, 6 solo tackles

    Lacy rushes for 100 yards

    Actual media storyline: Dez non catch, what’s next for Dallas in the offseason

  66. Time to get rid of this BS rule. I’ve been listening to Detroit Sports 105.1 this morning and they made a great point. If you asked 50 drunks in a sports bar watching that game if it was a catch, all 50 would say yes. The point being, if it isn’t a rule that the average fan can understand and a clear judgement call can be made on, then it shouldn’t be enforced that way.

    They also made another great point, because this happened to the Cowboys this time maybe it will get revoked this off season. Jerruh might have enough clout to get it removed because it effected “America’s Team” this time.

  67. catch the ball, take two steps, stretch, ball hits the ground and comes out incompletion.

    catch the ball, take three or more steps, stretch, ball hits the ground and comes out down by contact.

    Lots of subjective rules in the NFL. It was a catch until it wasn’t a catch.

    Bottom line is no one really knows what possesion, a football move, or pass interference is in the NFL and it is killing the sport.

  68. Where was the ball (conclusively) shown to hit the ground?

    1) Play call on the field = catch

    2) To overturn, the evidence (replay) needs to show something conclusive to the contrary.

    I’ve looked at the whole clip frame-by-frame…..in no frame can you see the ball make contact with the ground. Without proof that the ball hit the ground, you can only guess or infer that the ball hit the ground. Inference and guessing are not conclusive. Without that evidence, you cannot even apply the stupid rule….or overturn the call on the field.

  69. If they changed the rule to accommodate Dez Bryant and other players in similar circumstances then you need to change the rules so that possession is achieved earlier opening up receiver that get hit as soon as they catch it, then all the balls jostled loose would be considered fumbles and would result in a lot of turnovers and bigger hits.

  70. I refuse to use this as an excuse but the rule is clearly flawed. Think about this… had Dez ran out of bounds after taking his 3 steps, it’s a catch. Had he lost the ball after taking 3 steps while touching the pylon with it, it’s a TD. There is no way around those facts.

    Don’t hate the refs or the Packers, hate the rule.

  71. Also the ball never popped out onto the ground. It was secured when he hit the ground. When his body turned over it popped up for a second but he regained it, all while staying inbounds. Even better, he was in the end zone.

    When I saw the play I wasn’t sure how it would be ruled, though. Refs get too overly lite real about losing possession.

  72. Or professional football players should know by now the NFL rule book is such a mess and the officiating is so complicated they should never do anything to put a play in hands of replay. Don’t expose yourself and your team to NFL insanity.

    Dez Bryant should have simply secured the ball against his body instead of risking losing it. He also could have lost the ball for a touchback on that play.

    Just play smart guys. Im frustrated too. Watching a football game is now like watching a trial. What a mess.

  73. Dallas allowed an immobile, one-legged QB sit in the pocket all day, while their vaunted o-line gave up 4 sacks and 8 hits to Romo.

    Dallas had GB by the throat in the first half and squandered a FG opp and then allowed a FG before the half: 17-7 became 14-10 just like that.

    Murray fumbles in third with wide-open lane ahead leads to another GB FG.

    Poor pass protection, no pass rush, missed FG, costly fumble and a defense that could not stop a gimpy Rodgers cost Dallas that game.

  74. Well Cowboy fans it looked like a catch but I can see where they ruled the ball popped out because it does there at the end. Tough call for sure.

    However its nothing compared to the original disgraceful call against Calvin Johnson who never bobbled the ball, but simply was punished for using the ball as a prop to get off the ground after making the catch. Then flicking it up in celebration. His mistake was doing all of it in one motion because he was so excited.

    That was the most ridiculous ‘incomplete pass’ call of all time.

  75. morebrocato says: Jan 12, 2015 11:43 AM

    Anyway, I actually think this play comes down to Dez Bryant electing to make a ‘reach’ with the football (to get into the end zone) during a time when he perhaps should have realized he needed to fully secure the reception to the ground. I think if he simply decided against the ‘reach’ move he would have had a reception– because he caught it. He just blew it with that extra stuff. I guess also that a ‘reach’ doesn’t count as a football move when going to the ground.

    It happens, much like players who, after achieving a first down, inexplicably cough it up afterwards trying to reach for that few more inches while being tackled.
    This is where it gets complicated, because if he did what you say I would consider it a lunge for a touchdown which would override that rule. You can say it wasn’t a lunge also, because his feet were on the ground being held while he used all of his strength to try and make it a touchdown.

    When players inexplicably cough up the ball to make 1st downs it’s considered down by contact 99.9% of the time. I’ve never seen it happen. I’ve only seen this applied twice and both were huge games. Hopefully they clear this rule up.

  76. The question surrounding plays like this is WHEN does possession of the football occur. Normally, that simply requires control of the football and two feet down. In this case, there is no question that Dez had control of the ball, just like there was no question that Calvin Johnson had control of the football. Haters gonna hate, but an objective look at both plays shows that both players clearly had control of the football. In this particular case, Dez also managed to get three feet down, not just two. Now, I believe the rule could have been applied either way. As Florio points out, I believe a justification could be made that Dez was making a football move by lunging at the end zone. As the NFL maintains, though, a justification could be made that this was simply part of Bryant’s momentum which was already taking him to the ground. Debating the particulars of the call is really pointless after the game is over. What I know, and what I believe is clearly seen in the replay, is that Dez Bryant had full control of the football and had two feet down in bounds. Thus, it should be a catch. If a rule exists that would say otherwise, that rule should be changed.


  78. Physics of inertia moving forward, gravity pulling you downward, and the physiological human reflex of putting your arm down while falling are not football moves.

  79. Only in the NFL is a catch with your hands dependent on where your feet are. Simple physics, if you can palm the ball and rotate it to reach the end zone the ball is in your possession. Except of course in the NFL where they clearly know better than gravity or what a person can see with their eyes. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is a duck except to Goodell and his stooges. It’s a mirage.

  80. Cobb’s “catch” was bouncing around on the ground like a pinball but I guess that’s the home field benefit. Next week, not so much.

  81. The refs flat out blew the call. It was a football move, it was a second move. Dez was certainly in control of the football, no doubt about that, and he was making a second move to try to stretch the ball over the goal line. Just a blown call. It’s shocking that none of the refs on the field knew the rule book. Why should we find out the next day that they got the call wrong. Whoever decides that they got the call wrong two days later, should be the guy making the right call on gameday. They need to change the replay system to have one centrally located group of replay officials.

  82. The NFL is allowing the Referees to dictate the game results ! That is WRONG ! Almost every play we have to wait and see what the refs decided before we know if the play was good or bad.Nobody knows the rules because they are far too complex ! This is ridiculous !Every game is over refereed ! This ruins the game ! Why cant the refs let the players play football ?

  83. I am not a cowboy fan but that was a catch. This is why the NFL is not as fun to watch as 10 years ago and beyond. It gets less interesting each year. If it wasn’t for fantasy football i wouldn’t watch as much football that’s for sure.

  84. If you listened to Mike & Mike this morning, Cris Carter (who knows a few things about catching footballs) agreed that it wasn’t a catch by the rules. If Dez had held onto the ball when it hit the ground, it would have been a catch. The moment the ball hit the ground and then popped up, even though he recaught it, it was incomplete.

  85. 4sacroc on 1/12 at 12:16 pm mentions important reasons Dallas lost….and I’d add two gaffes by Jason Garrett:

    1. Not running on 3rd & 2 before the half cost him 3 points; and

    2. Going for the 50-yard field goal that was missed instead of going for the first down on 4th down.

    Dumb decisions.

  86. When are the going to release the video showing the ball actually hit the ground without his hand underneath it. The leagues said they have multiple angles showing the ball on the ground. Fox sure as heck didn’t show any.

  87. It’s a good rule because it takes away the refs ability to make judgment calls. The rule is definitive. If you are going to the ground as you make a catch, you have to maintain possession.

    Bryant was certainly going to the ground as he made the catch. But to complete the catch he has to hold on to the ball. The ball hit the ground and he lost total control.

    No catch, no referee interpretation, no judgment call that it was close enough. It’s cut and dried, just like the two feet in bounds now. You either get them in or you don’t. No more referee deciding he thought a guy could get his feet in but got forced out.

    The fewer the opportunities for judgment calls the better. That is why this rule was put in to begin with.

  88. As a cowboy fan I wish PFT wouldn’t drag this out giving the impression that ALL cowboy fans are blaming the refs for this loss. I for one don’t blame one call that took only a few seconds out of a 60 minute game and I hope all cowboy fans would be sensible enough to do the same. I don’t agree with the call personally but it was called according to the rules so what can you really say? Dallas had their chances and blew them. If you wanna pick apart what cost Dallas the game look at the Murray fumble, the failure to secure the fumbled punt by Cobb, the lack of pressure on Rodgers when he was hampered by his leg, the DBs always going for the strip instead of making the tackle, Sterling Moore not going for what could’ve been an easy pick on the TD pass between him and another DB or if you must focus on that one play then how about Dez failing to just catch the pass and go to the ground. I know after last weekend it bothered me to read all the talk about Dallas being handed the game and people acting like Dallas didn’t deserve to beat Detroit so I’m not going to do that to another team and their fan base. Packers won fair and square let it go.

  89. The problem with the rule is in the subjective aspect of it. If someone (the ref) has to make a subjective decision that there was a football move in order for the ball to be caught, then the rule is not a rule, but more of a guideline. If replay is subjective, then why have it? Let the on-field refs make the calls as they see them, then move on. Replay is supposed to take the subjectivity out of calls. It’s not working.

  90. I made this comment on a previous post. He made a football move by reaching to get the ball across the goal line. Of the 240 people that gave thumbs up/down, 75% of the people thought it was a catch. The majority of the other 25% were most likely Packers fans.

  91. In any case I am now forced to root for the Seahawks. Although considering the choices coming out of the end of this game, it was inevitable.

  92. I’m a fan and it meshed perfectly with me! I’m not a Cowboys or Packers fan. The rule is the rule. Catch the ball all the way through falling to the ground. Dez Bryant said it himself “I was reaching for the goal line”. Yeah, well catch the ball first, Dummy!

  93. Calvin Johnson actually lost a td last year also because of this rule….against the Vikings….he caught the ball turned ,took a step, dove and reached out across the goal line….then I can’t remember if it was knocked loose or he lost the ball as it hit the ground from reaching across the goal line as he went across it….but they ruled it incomplete and he actually made the football move after he caught the ball….Dez’s steps were stumbles from his momentum as he was going down to the ground ….rule was applied perfectly here as those steps/stumbles weren’t created by Dez controlling those steps/stumbles

  94. Ive been saying the samething Sandman. There is no video evidence showing the ball.touching the ground. Tip of ball secured in his hand and tucked under forearm. Video doesnt.show football contacting ground. CATCH!!

  95. The whole game is over adjudicated. Period. It has to stop. As in the Detroit game, there are so many other things to discuss in terms of real football other than this one play–Rodgers unreal performance, Cowboys ability to answer the call when behind against a tough defense. GB winning in the trenches much of the time, Romo’s near perfect game–an otherwise enjoyable, well coached, well played game. I have been watching for 40 years, there is more argument now over calls than there ever was before replay. NFL needs to address this. Period.

  96. if this had happened to a packer receiver Jerrah and the Cowboy nation would be unanimous in saying “Its a rule–get over it”.

    …but then Jerrah and his minions have always thought they deserve a double standard when it comes to flags and rule enforcement

  97. People really see what they want to see out there.
    The rule is stupid. The old rule was that if the ball made contact with the ground at all through the process of a catch then it was incomplete. The rule as it is now actually favors the passing offense, no surprise.
    Nobody is talking about the fact that the defender dislodged the ball from Bryant’s hands at the top of the catch. Had Bryant had full control at that point then the dive forward would have been a football move. The ball was jarred from his hands enough that he was then forced to re-establish full possession while coming down. He never did this being that the ball bounced off the ground.
    As for the morons crying that it is too confusing that the ground can cause an incompletion but not a fumble, I feel sorry for you. How does that even make sense? Should the NFL just allow QBs to throw to receivers and allow the balls to hit the ground and just call them catches?

  98. it was a catch and everyone knows it was but that call did not cost us the game and this is the difference between cowboys fans and lions fans we know we had chances to win and didn’t, we don’t blame the refs we blame the team so take notes lions fans and learn how to get over it and move on.

  99. @InFact there’s no logic at all in what you just said. I understand criticizing Garrett for not running on 3rd & 2 but how is going for the field goal right before halftime a bad call? If they go for it on 4th down there and don’t make it the result is the same as the missed field goal: no points and Green Bay takes over at the same spot with good field position. You can look back at it now because Bailey missed it and say it was a bad call but it’s always easy in the aftermath of something to say what should’ve been done when you’re not the one making the decision. Besides 50 yards is makeable for Bailey. Trying for the FG was the right call.

  100. Dallas did NOT lose the game because of that reversed call. It was poor play calling on the part of either Garrett or Romo. Look at the game situation, 4th and 1 with 4 minutes left and your defense has been getting shredded by Aaron Rodgers. Why on earth do you throw the ball up for grabs??? If you watch the play there was every chance Shields could have picked it off. But the point is, why aren’t you giving the ball to Murray, get the first down and run some clock! Dallas lost this game all on their own. Don’t blame the refs for getting the call right when you made a bad choice.

    The way Aaron was torching them, even if Dallas scored it is likely with that much time left the Packers would have won.

  101. As a Packers fan, I don’t think that the Cobb catch along the ground was a catch. I think it bounced off his hands and then onto the ground before he secured it.

    That being said, the next play, Rodgers gets sacked, losing most-if-not-all of the yards the Cobb play gained, and resulted in the Packers burning another timeout. So, almost any potential benefit of that call was rendered null by the football gods immediately thereafter.

    Then, after the sack, Rodgers unleashed the laser up the sideline that Cobb clearly caught and tip-toed in bounds.

    So, long-story-short, Packers are getting those 3 points with or without the incorrectly reviewed Cobb-catch.

  102. The rules are set before the game starts. This is a committee issue, not a bad call. The rule was correctly interpreted and the ball touched the ground.
    In Peter King I trust. Read MMQB. I respect Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett for their post game comments.
    Lost in all this was that Sam Shields made a plus on that play by keeping Dez from immediately caching the ball and effecting the fall.
    Dez is an incredible athlete.
    If there is a way to better the rule, I’m all for it, but nobody got jobbed. The 2014 rule was applied correctly.

  103. “Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 1 explains that when a player is going to the ground in the act of catching a pass…”

    I would say he wasn’t going to the ground in the act of catching the pass. He caught the pass – then went to the ground in the act of diving for the end zone. How is this that controversial? Dumb rule

  104. I think they just use whichever part justifies the final call.

    The rule also stipulates the going to the ground part is either on the field of play or in the end zone. How many times has a guy lost the ball when going to the ground out of bounds? According to the rule it would be a catch but they don’t rule it that way. Don’t believe me? Look it up.

    I believe the going to the ground part of the rule was written for when guys dive for the ball and lose it when hitting the ground rather than how it is being ruled now. It is based on incompletion vs. fumble not incompletion vs catch.

    The Bryant play hinges on whether or not any of the following :taking 2 steps, changing which hand controls the ball, diving for the end zone and reaching out with the ball constitute “any act common to the game”. Somehow they are saying that none of them do since they claim the ball hitting the ground was during the process of the catch. If any one of those examples are considered “an act common to the game” then the catch was completed prior to the ball touching the ground, coming loose and Bryant regaining control. As a fan of NFL football for over 4 decades, I think the correct ruling is a catch and down by contact where he hit the ground (1 yard line or so)

  105. “The challenge for the NFL as to this and every other rule becomes ensuring that the rules mesh with the commonsensical expectations of folks playing, coaching, and/or watching the game.”

    IOW, the paying public.

  106. As a fan of a different team who has long been eliminated from the playoffs, I have no loyalty or personal interest in either team. But I will say this. Both quarterbacks appeared hobbled, and if their injuries linger, I can’t see either team walking out of Seattle with a win. And I think that’s why so many are upset. This game was the NFC runner-up game.

  107. The intent of the rule was for a player going directly to the ground with a catch. They didn’t account for a player stumbling from the catch and eventually going down. Dez took 3 steps. What if he had taken 4. Or 5. Or stumbled 10 yards before going to the ground. The rule needs to clarify how many stumbling steps are taken before its considered a catch.

  108. I have a feeling that everyone calling it a catch would also be upset if it was called a fumble had the ball been knocked out of Dez’s hands before the ball hit the ground.

    Because if you’re saying it was a reception…then you’re also saying it should be called a fumble if the defender knocked it out of his hands.

  109. The only fans and players it doesn’t mesh with are Cowboys fans and players.

    It’s a clear rule intended to remove all “judgement” calls in the scope of a catch while falling to the ground.

    There were 500 of these calls during the season. But because it’s the Cowboys in the payoffs, it gets scrutiny.

  110. OK just fix it. As a fan I want the players deciding the game not some poor excuse of a rule . The old rules worked better and had far less controversy. Two feet down with possession is a catch. When the ball touches the ground it’s a incomplete pass period .. This would help to end the fix it cries that have been going on for a few weeks now The old madden rule if all 3 people standing around the water cooler say it was a catch then it’s a catch. Please fix some of these controversial rules and let’s play football and talk about what a great game it was instead of what a bad call it was …

  111. I hate the Cowboys and even wanted Green Bay to win. But that was a catch. If the rules say that that wasn’t a catch, the rules need to be changed. Irregardless of what happened the week before and what would have happened to finish the game out, the Cowboys got screwed.

    And I absolutely hate the lines about not letting the game be in a position to where one bad call can lose you the game. If you’re in a close, hard fought game, a bad call CAN determine the outcome and just because you’re not blowing the other team out doesn’t mean it’s ok for the ref’s to make bad calls.

    The NFL’s image has been trashed this year and they need to make some serious changes. Rules like this need to be changed.

  112. Florio –
    Your recollection on Lance Moore is slightly fuzzy. What actually happened was it was ruled missed 2pt conversion fumble iirc. Payton challenged that the ball broke the plane prior to being kicked out by indys defense. I believe Payton’s argument was the ball broke the plane prior to being kicked out by the defender once the ball broke the plane the play is dead and ruled a successful 2pt conversion.
    Slightly different situation than Dez Bryant.

  113. Seems to me that if you just leaped two or three feet into the air to catch a pass, the act of landing should be considered a football move. It wasn’t like you jumped into the air for the hell of it.

  114. Bad call, bad rule, and no matter one’s feelings on the details of either, I think it’s safe to say we’re seeing some of the worst officiating in a long time in these playoffs. This is at least three or more playoff games where the biggest topics of conversation afterward is calls by the officials. That should not be the case.

    This call and the Detroit non-PI call are close calls, which are always subject to debate. But they were both handled poorly, and both surrounded by other really dubious calls from start to finish. It’s striking, and disappointing.

    The best way to have bad calls like this not be a waste is to see something change as a result. We have part-time officiating staff who get mixed and re-matched when the most important games come along, and they have to interpret increasingly complex rules. Add to that the increased skill and athleticism in the playoffs creating more close-call situations, and something has to give.

  115. The old rules worked better and had far less controversy. Two feet down with possession is a catch.

    And that means a lot more fumbles, because guys get their mitts on the ball and then have a defender jar it loose all the time.

    So all you’ve done is substitute a rule that means more incomplete passes for one that means more fumbles. You can do that if you’d like, but I don’t see how that’s an improvement. As soon as they change the rule there will be a big controversy over a fumble.

  116. Why is this a story. As a Dallas fan, I knew it was getting reversed. He reached for the pylon and didn’t break the plane, and by doing so, put the ball on the ground and it shifted. That is not a catch and would expect that to be the case. We lost because our defense couldn’t slow down the Pack, and in a shootout game, you can’t punt the ball, or fumble. I said it last week, and will say it this week, you can’t win a game scoring so little in the second half. My only consolidation is that Romo did throw any picks, he played smart and within the game. He took one shot, and Dez put it on the ground. Sad, but best season for Dallas in a while, now time to get to work on our rookies.

  117. If Dallas scores more than 7 points the entire 2nd half the non-catch would be irrelevant today.

    Dallas’ loss is on Dallas, not the refs.

  118. Did the call suck?

    I suppose it did for Cowboys fans…

    But lets be honest here, if you whole game revolves around losing a single play call versus winning the overall game then guess what? You LOST. Don’t leave it in the refs hands… play complete and play out.

    Besides, the Lions have a MUCH better argument at the end of the day with play calling.

  119. play should have stood as called on the field. You can not prove either way whether he lunged for the goal line or was bracing for the fall to the ground. Clearly the visual evidence is disputable.

  120. If that wasn’t a catch then the infamous Al Michaels interception call ‘he did what?!’ wasn’t a catch either

  121. There is no problem with the rule. The problem is officials that can’t use their brain. The guy in the Colts game used his brain on the muffed punt. It was the exact same rule in question. Cribbs caught the ball but was immediately hammered, went to the ground, and then fumbled. According the this rule, he needs to make a “football move” to officially establish possession. Cribbs made no move, and even Mike Carey said he would have ruled fumble by the “letter of the law”, but Birdman used his brain and saw that Cribbs clearly did catch the ball and was down by contact. Correct call. Same rule in question.

    With Bryant, he obviously caught the ball, so call it a catch. End of story. Stop hiding behind semantics for a rule designed for actual questions of possession. In this case, he clearly possessed the ball and took 3 steps. He wasn’t falling to the ground in the process of catching the ball. He was diving towards the end zone to score. What more do you need?!!!!

  122. Rules don’t exist to appease players and fans. Rules exist to create an environment of fair play.

    Don’t want to be subject to the rule? Don’t lose control of the ball while going to the ground to make a catch.

  123. Personally I can’t stand arbitrarily applied rules, either something is correct within the definition of the rules or it is not. If there is ever a middle ground the issue is a bad rule or a bad application of the rule, in either case the problem is with the people making or applying the rule and those people should be help up to ridicule for failing to perform their tasks adequately.

    I’m talking about the Dez Bryant ruling of course, what else could I be talking about?

  124. It seems unanimous to everyone here that Dez had two feet on the ground… some might say there was actually a third step.

    The one question I have is how can “possession” be in question when the guy was palming the ball? How can you palm a ball without possession?

    And all you cynics that keep writing, “Who care!” or “Move on already”… it needs to be discussed so it doesn’t keep happening. There shouldn’t be rules that could go either way. They should be written clear enough that there is no doubt.

  125. So, if the Cowboys thought Bryant made a football move, why didn’t they then throw the challenge flag and make their point for that. Packers still would have won, lots of time on the clock and they could not stop Aaron, but then the focus would be on Aaron Rodgers brilliant play and not this call.

  126. That was a catch, I don’t care what the rules state.. Common sense should over ride these ridiculous rules that are completely subjective.

    “any act common to the game,” pffffft. Give me a break, if that’s not subjective then what is. He clearly went for the pylon.

    And I’m, unfortunately, a dolphins fan.. No horse in this race.

  127. Based on most the comments here, I am under the impression that the Cowboys themselves are blaming the loss on this one play. But I actually haven’t seen that anywhere (them saying they thought it was a catch isn’t the same as blaming it for the loss or saying it is “home cooking” like the lions did last week). Of course they are upset with that call, and we’d be naive to think any other team would feel any differently if they were in the Cowboys spot regardless of whether the right call was made or not. I mean, we’ve seen clear holding penalties called (holding is one of the least arguable calls in the nfl) and teams upset about the call after the game.

    Also, can we stop with the “they lost to an immobile Rodgers” talk? Sure, his mobility is impressive, but it’s rodgers accuracy that makes him great. The Cowboys had no pass rush all season, and Rodgers will pick defenses like that apart all day unless his arm is broken. i would take a “one legged” Rodgers over every qb except for Brady.

  128. the rule isn’t the problem , the problem is how its applied , possession with 3 steps is a catch whether he’s going to the ground or not .

  129. He was going to the ground as part of the catch AND part of the contact with the defender. He did not maintain control. There has to be a point where the catch is done. Hell, Lee Evans caught the ball and pulled it into his body before it was knocked out and I, as a Ravens fan, knew it was incomplete without any week long explanation. This was simply not a catch.

    Personally, I believe if any part of the ball hits the ground, with or without control, it is not a catch. That removes a ton of speculation. There are just too many rules that favor the offense. Allowing the ball to hit the ground at any point is just silly. If you can’t complete the catch without the ball hitting the ground, it is simply not a catch, no matter how close it was or how much someone needed 10 more yards in fantasy football.

  130. If the ground, which caused the ball to move, would have resulted in a fumble (which can’t happen?) — would he have been able to recover it in the endzone for a Touchdown?

  131. They wouldn’t consider changing this rule if it happens to the Lions a couple of years ago. But god forbid now that it happens to the Cowboys the rules need to be changed.

  132. I’m sick of everybody saying dez needs to be flagged for being on the field. Especially since all of you are pointing to the rule book for other instances. Maybe all of you need to actually read the thing. It clearly states that being on the field is not an immediate penalty but at the ref’s discretion, nor is having your helmet off. It is only a penalty for a player to take their helmet off while on the playing field.

    How many times has a coach run onto the field to argue a call or to throw a challenge flag. They are never immediately flagged. They are only flagged following a prolonged argument with the ref.

  133. Frazier28/7 says:
    Jan 12, 2015 1:22 PM
    If that wasn’t a catch then the infamous Al Michaels interception call ‘he did what?!’ wasn’t a catch either

    Only two things wrong with your take.

    1) Freeman never let the ball hit the ground. ( I was at that game)
    2) Bryant let the ball hit the ground and lost full control of it when he did. (I was at that game)

  134. Anyone who calls that an incomplete pass regardless of the rules has issues that have nothing to do with football. 3 feet down, turn, lunge to try and break the plane and only then it is slightly bobbled on his own body. I’d accept catch, fumble, fumble recovery before that ridiculous excuse of a rule / call. Makes me want to turn the bleeping channel when I think about all the NFL has become since I was a kid in the 60’s…l

  135. Easy to change this rule, must maintain full control no matter what. The fact that there is a receiver to runner provision is dumb. If the rule was to maintain full control regardless if he makes a football move or not, Dez holds on to that ball like its a baby. But the loose interpretation allowed Dez to make a dumb decision. I have seen that call go multiple ways, we didn’t get the nod and then couldn’t stop the Pack from moving. Our loss is on Defense, not a poorly written rule.

    Rules are meant to be simple, so that there is 0 doubt as to what to do, but this didn’t lose us the game. Great season, bitter end, but on to next year.

  136. Cowboys fans, you need to get over it.

    Did this call result in 7 points total in the second half?

    Did this call cause your defense to roll over and die in front of Rodgers?

    You lost.

    Now, as someone else said, put all that Dallas gear back into their garment bags and seal them up tight so they’ll be ready when you all jump the bandwagon again in 2025.

  137. As a Packers fan, i THOUGHT it was a catch initially, which made me mad cuzi thought now it’s up to Rodgers to score one more TD. Smart move by coach to challenge and i was absolutely shocked they overturned considering it’s cowboys…. according to rule it is incomplete. same thing happened in seahawks game when their safety caught it but when he landed on grounded the ball hit and it was called incomplete.

  138. atthemurph says:
    Jan 12, 2015 2:28 PM
    Frazier28/7 says:
    Jan 12, 2015 1:22 PM
    If that wasn’t a catch then the infamous Al Michaels interception call ‘he did what?!’ wasn’t a catch either

    Only two things wrong with your take.

    1) Freeman never let the ball hit the ground. ( I was at that game)
    2) Bryant let the ball hit the ground and lost full control of it when he did. (I was at that game)

    as if being at a game means you saw the play better. Hell, the opposite should be said. The person at home saw it a hundred times a hundred different angles. You saw it with your eyes 250 feet away ONCE.


    This rule has been called I don’t know how many times during the year. Anyone that knows the game knows that if the ball moves when it hits the ground, it’s a catch. Dez DID NOT make a move for the goaline until after he hit the ground. I don’t know why people are up in arms. Because of the situation? I guess I can understand. But this has been called countless times. The tuck rule was called one time, and only one time…in that playoff game, even with the explanation, still was a bad call.

  140. Is there indisputable video evidence that shows the ball, and not Dez’ arm, hitting the ground, popping the ball into the air?

    If not, it should have stood.

  141. Please stop saying he took three steps after he caught it. The ball was clearly still moving. It bounced off his hands after the initial contact, he bobbled it, then as his “3rd step” was down took possession. On his way down the ball hit the ground and bounced up just before the endzone. Clearly NOT a catch.

  142. This blows my mind. He literally didn’t catch the ball. The only thing that kept the ball from bouncing completely out of Dez’ hands was the ground. As he rolls over, the ball actually entirely leaves his hands, zero contact, before he grabbed it with both hands to show he “caught” it. This is insane. If the rule was just that it has to look like a catch, then he caught it. But guess what? That’s not the rule, and hasn’t been for YEARS.

  143. There would have been around 4 minutes left in the game if the cowboys would have scored. They probably go for two points to make is 29-26. The Packers moved right down the field as soon as they got the ball back. It was 1st and 10 on the 23 yard line(before cobb’s delay of game celebration). There was about 1:45 left on the game clock with two time outs left.

    There was no way the Packers wouldn’t have scored .

  144. Heh. If you ‘who think it’s a catch’ clowns think it’s easy, why don’t you write the rule on what constitutes a catch then?

    This is easily not a catch by the current rules. If you don’t like the rule, well that’s a different story.

  145. Last week we saw something that none of us have ever seen. Pass Interference being called for something that it has been called on for years, and especially this, the penalty announced, only to be picked up without exaplantion. Cowboy fans told us to “shut up,” “get over it,” and my favorite, “let it go.” This week, a call that everyone knows, the Calvin Johnson rule, is made and all of a sudden it is a national outrage.

    Cowboys fans need to let it go.

  146. The two aspects of this rule are meant to address different situations – (1) when the player is going to the ground, and (2) when the player makes a football move unrelated to going to the ground. The first case is when making the catch causes the player to go to the ground, and the second is when a player loses control of ball when the catch is made (or attempted) without going to the ground, such as when being hit by a linebacker. When going to the ground, you must satisfy the related provision. Clearly, Bryant was going to the ground.

  147. The ground can’t cause a fumble on a rush, but it can on a reception… unless it can. In which case it does, and in Dez’ case … did! Sorry Dez, it sucks, but it is the current rule.


  148. The ground can’t cause a fumble on a rush, but it can on a reception… unless it can’t. In which case it does, and in Dez’ case … did! Sorry Dez, it sucks, but it is the current rule.


  149. Dez caught the ball and maintained possession for at least 2 steps. The ball touched the ground with force when Dez lunged forward to gain more yardage or in this case a touchdown. This move is a signature move for Dez which makes him a equivalent to a runner. That force then jarred the ball from his hand only to be caught again. When he put a third foot on the ground he was now running after a reception. When he dove and reached for the end zone he was making a so-called “football move”. This was a catch, a football move for extra yardage, a fumble, and repossession!

  150. The stupidity of this rule is that if he would have caught the ball in the middle of the field, was hit, took three steps, fell to the ground but prior to making contact with the ground a defender knocked the ball out. It is a fumble. How’s that? Oh that’s right he had possession and was not down yet by contact. So that’s a catch and this isn’t? Not that it matters they probably would have lost anyway. Nice timeout call Garrett to allow instant replay t ok view the play prior to the half.

  151. Some of you people need to quit watching football. If you don’t “get it”, the rule is wrong? Some of you have become so incensed by this call that you actually believe the play took 5 or 6 seconds from the time the ball touched Bryant’s hand until it popped loose. The entire process took less than one second. He had possession of that ball for about 7/10ths of a second. There was no “football move” or anything else. He jumped up, came down and lost control of the ball when he hit the ground. The rule fit the reversal exactly. There was no judgment call made. There is not much leeway for officials to interpret that particular rule. I going tired of listening to the whining about this Bryant nonsense faster than the drama of last week. Sundays are made for football, the rest of the time is a media soap opera.

  152. The ‘Dez Bryant Rule”??? Help me as I am confused. Is that the rule whereby Dezzie doesn’t get penalized for over-the-top taunting or the rule where Dezzie doesn’t get penalized for berating the refs with his helmet off? You’re right……neither of these rules sit well with most fans:)

  153. Ruled correctly, dumb rule.

    That said, I don’t agree with the underlying argument that this lost the game for Dallas. I don’t see them stopping the Packers on the ensuing possession. Hell, they actually didn’t stop them on the ensuing possession.

    Murray’s fumble lost the game for Dallas.

  154. The Panther Seahawk game…Earl Thomas interception is reviewed…looking eerily similar to the Bryant play..interception is overruled for ball moving after hitting the ground, not a peep from anyone over the call. Good luck next year Cowboys.

  155. The only problem I had with the officiating was the three times that Packer’s defenders went after Romo’s legs in clear violation of the Brady rule. Bryant’s “catch” was ruled correctly based on NFL rules for a catch.

  156. JRcowboy, From Dez catching the ball, he is clearly going to ground from momentum, so he has to follow those rules regardless of steps or possession. I don’t think you get that.

  157. Is this what the NFL has become? Instead of talking about great plays from playoff weekend, fans are talking about rule interpretations and the head of officials. Had to know that’s where all this replay garbage would lead us.

  158. REDSKINSFOREVER says: Jan 12, 2015 12:05 PM

    We are down to four teams, so which one gets hosed by the NFL’s incompetent rules/refs this week?

    Thats where vegas should be placing odds.


    “Andrew and the Colts, come on down!”

  159. How much more of a football move could have been when Dez took two steps fell over and pushed the defender and moves ball forward to try to get the TD. To many rules looked at too many different ways by crews. The game has become talking of calls on the filed more than scores or players that did this or that on the field.

  160. “farmmbig says:
    Jan 12, 2015 11:48 AM
    Just another home cooking game. It happens all the time in Green Bay.”

    Exactly. Any other stadium, this does not get overturned.

  161. ozzycon says:
    Jan 12, 2015 3:42 PM
    The stupidity of this rule is that if he would have caught the ball in the middle of the field, was hit, took three steps, fell to the ground but prior to making contact with the ground a defender knocked the ball out. It is a fumble. How’s that? Oh that’s right he had possession and was not down yet by contact. So that’s a catch and this isn’t? Not that it matters they probably would have lost anyway. Nice timeout call Garrett to allow instant replay t ok view the play prior to the half.

    You’re wrong. It doesn’t matter where on the field the play occurs. If he is going to the ground in the process of making the catch he has to control the ball after hitting the ground.

    It would be incomplete just as the pass to Bryant yesterday was incomplete. He lost the ball when the ball hit the ground.

    If he had taken two steps and gotten hit by the defender and knocked to the ground, it’s a catch. But he didn’t He stumbled to the ground on his way down from grabbing the ball. He had momentary possession but he did not complete the catch.

  162. The rule was applied appropriately in this case.

    But like the author, I don’t understand why the NFL is so adamant in maintaining a rule that defies the common sense of the game of most everyone involved. The players and coaches don’t like the rule, and judging by their statements last night and today, the media find the rule stupid, contradictory, and incomprehensible. Most importantly, fans universally hate the rule and the way it’s interpreted and called. Only the competition committee and the officials seem to like this rule at all.

    Frankly, I’ve never understood what was wrong with the old standard of possession + 2 feet on the ground = catch. It seems to work OK at all other levels of the game without creating this type of controversy. The way the rule is called now takes plays that everyone understood as completions, from the invention of the forward pass until 2010, and suddenly turns them into incomplete passes.

  163. Waht drives me nuts is that Dez’s catch gets overturned, but then the fumble on the punt in the Colts game gets overturned as well. The punt returner made no football move to establish possession but he is ruled down by contact in a reversal????? No consistency whatsoever.

  164. artvan15 said:

    “They wouldn’t consider changing this rule if it happens to the Lions a couple of years ago. But god forbid now that it happens to the Cowboys the rules need to be changed.”

    Man, I wish I could give this a few hundred thumbs up.

  165. This is a stupid rule.

    I was much happier when the rule was that the ground can’t cause a fumble. That never resulted in 2 minute play stoppages and silly decisions based on judgment calls.

    I was so annoyed with the ending of that game that I didn’t bother to watch the Colts beat the Broncos.

  166. Dont change the rule because it hurt the cowboys. The rule is clear. Complete the catch before trying for the end zone. If you do it all in one motion, then you are still trying to complete the catch. The rule is simple. Leave it alone or just get rid of replay all together.

  167. The fact that networks now have a Mike Pereira(who makes me physically ill when he talks)on their broadcasts speaks volumes as to what has happened to this once GREAT league.Instead of the athletes being the showcase/drama it is these referee’s/replays that have taken over.This can only blamed on the owners that adopted these idiotic rules in the first place.

  168. Do any of you people who seriously think that was a catch by current NFL rules believe that if that play happened on the 20 yard line, that Dez Bryant had any possibility of landing on two feet and running toward the end zone? Of course not, from the moment he touched the ball, he was falling, he was going to the ground and he needed to retain possession of the football through his fall. He did not do that. He did not catch that football.

  169. johngaltwho says: Jan 12, 2015 5:45 PM

    Do any of you people who seriously think that was a catch by current NFL rules believe that if that play happened on the 20 yard line, that Dez Bryant had any possibility of landing on two feet and running toward the end zone? Of course not, from the moment he touched the ball, he was falling, he was going to the ground and he needed to retain possession of the football through his fall. He did not do that. He did not catch that football.


    He took 3 complete steps after catching the ball.
    You need to go back and re-watch.
    Otherwise, your hate is blinding your vision, as indicated by your ridiculous explanation.

  170. Yeah the TUCK RULE still makes espn top five worst call 13 years latter . That call did cost Oakland the game kneel down and run out the c lock game over worst call ever …That was nfl payback to Mr Davis so sad but what else can you say .. Viking fan here

  171. He took 3 complete steps after catching the ball.
    You need to go back and re-watch.
    Otherwise, your hate is blinding your vision, as indicated by your ridiculous explanation.
    Yes, it must be hate if I disagree with you. There is no other explanation possible. And the head of NFL officiating – he hates too.

    Im not assuming that you hate because you think, no, you are certain beyond any doubt, that it was a catch. I just think that you are interpreting the concept of a football move differently than I am. I happen to think falling is not a football move.

  172. So now we want the receiver to be able to drop the ball and still call it a reception. I like offense but no way. Catch the ball and hang onto it all the way through. I am done watching if we start letting the ball hit the ground.

  173. Obviously disputable since the entire nation is arguing over it and not one picture frame clearly shows the ball touching the ground. It would be better for NFL to just admit to a mistake.

  174. I think many of you are missing the point and so is Blandino, that there was a call on the field. Catch and down by contact at the ½ yard line. This is irrefutable. That was the ruling. The rules say that to overturn a call on the field you must find “indisputable evidence.” Indisputable evidence is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt sort of like a unanimous jury. Evidence where no reasonable minds can differ. Whether you like it or not that is the rule. The NFL is a league that needs to follow rules but somehow they don’t want to follow their own rules. Perhaps it was to bad for Blandino that the ruling on the field was a catch and down by contact but that is what was called. So far, since the conclusion of the game, professionals and analysts from everywhere differ as to did Dez make a football move. They differ because there is just not enough there to say without a shadow of a doubt that Dez was not making a football move. YOU HAVE TO GO WITH THE CALL ON THE FIELD. The mere fact that reasonable minds are differing shows that Blandino and the referee on the field should have easily seen that there was not enough to overturn the ruling on the field. Know the rules and what indisputable means. It does not mean more likely than not.

  175. The section of that rule you forgot to post is that if the player in question is wearing a green and gold uniform (like Randall Cobb), then it will be ruled a catch even if it touches the ground

  176. Good article Mike.

    It seems almost everyone agrees that the rule is absurd, but the fact the ruling on the field was overruled with very little evidence to contradict it seems to be lost on many.

    For my money, it’s a catch all day long. I still think the best team won and the result was right, but the Cowboys got screwed. No two ways about it.

  177. If the term “second act” is synonymous with “football move,” the ultimate question as to the Dez Bryant player becomes whether there was indisputable visual evidence that he didn’t commit a football move or second act. If the visual evidence was not indisputable, the ruling on the field should have been confirmed.


    Thank you Florio. The only people who want to say the refs got the right call on overturning the call are the typical haters who are blinded to reason and the incompetent refs.

  178. To prove it was a football move, look at his feet as he was lunging to the end zone and you can see grass coming up from below his left foot. If he wasn’t making a football move to the end zone this wouldn’t be the case.

  179. In Lance Moore’s case, the ball had already broken the plane of the goal line, before it hit the ground and, He lost it.

  180. People are confusing falling to the ground, stretching for the goal line in the process, with a “football move”, and toe tapping with steps. The rule is as good as it can be as is. Its very straight forward, it allows the ball to touch the ground so long as its controlled throughout the catch process, that being catching the ball and taking a step forward, making a spin move, or some move other than that caused by momentum and gravity. There are already too many rules that favor receivers. Unless someone can come up with a rule that removes all subjectivity, this is as good as it gets.

  181. Football is about domination

    You can’t rely on officiating, now or ever to win

    Dallas had 60 minutes to beat a one legged QB and failed

    Dez Bryant has no maturity or class unlike Packers wideouts

    Tony Romo will never win a SB, mark your calendar to that

  182. Dez caught the ball and secured it with 2 hands, took 3 steps while switching the ball to his left hand and reached it over the goal line–that was a catch…even following the letter of the law of that ridiculous rule. There was not enough evidence to overturn the call on the field. The Cowboys were robbed of a TD. The viewers were robbed of what would have been a very entertaining final 4 minutes of a classic playoff game. Sure the Packers would have scored again–but I sure would have liked to have seen it play out–then to see what the Cowboys could do with their remaining time.

  183. Dez was going to the ground. Secured the ball while still going to the ground. Extended his arms so that he would not land on top of the ball. Ball hits ground and is knocked loose. Incomplete pass. Move on.

  184. If a receiver has to maintain control all the way thru the play – then why doesn’t a running back have to do the same thing. They are allowed to go out of bounds on the 3 yard line – wave the football at the goal lone – even drop the ball, but if the ball even touches the “plane” it is a touchdown no mater what happens after that magical moment. Whatever happened to the rule as written – When a ball carrier (I assume meaning the entire man carrying the ball) crosses the goal line, AND “TOUCHES THE BALL DOWN” he scores a “Touchdown”. Are we now going to call it a PLANE DOWN?? Then there is the receiver that keeps his feet in bounds, but reaches 3 yards out of bounds to catch a ball. Why isn’t it out of bounds the instant the ball touches the plane of the out of bounds marker???
    The other thing that is bothersom – you can’t wear a defense down anymore, because about every other play has a time out to “review” something, giving them a rest- This review thing has gotten way out of hand & is ruining the game. Go back to the old rules & leave the cameras out of it!!!!!

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