Jason Garrett: Catch rule robbed the NFL of a classic finish

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Cowboys coach Jason Garrett believes that a better-written NFL rule would have given Dez Bryant a catch at the end of the playoff game in Green Bay — and would have given the NFL an all-time playoff classic.

Garrett pointed out that the Cowboys would have had first-and-goal at the 1-yard line, setting up, potentially, a game as memorable as another Cowboys-Packers battle, the Ice Bowl.

“To have the Cowboys inside the 1-yard line at Lambeau Field with 4:45 to go 47 years after Bart Starr had a quarterback sneak is great for our game,” Garrett said, via the Star-Telegram. “To have Aaron Rodgers standing on the other sideline waiting for his opportunity to come back, that’s what we want. And Dez Bryant getting three feet and a forearm down I think should be a catch in in our league. I think we should find ways to make sure it is going forward. It has nothing to do with our game, our team, its about how to right the rule going forward.”

As it is, that game will be remembered more for a great play that didn’t count than for a great ending.

143 responses to “Jason Garrett: Catch rule robbed the NFL of a classic finish

  1. Yeah and the Lions were robbed by a over turned penalty that was Cleary a penalty.

    So in other words stop crying in Dallas.

  2. What does it mean to establish yourself as a runner vs. make a move common to the game?

    Why leave it up to interpretation? Dallas would have likely lost even if they had scored a TD but I believe it was a catch

  3. There have been two calls in 5 years that have caused this sort of uproar based on the rule. Stop overblowing it.

    And let’s drop the “3 feet and a forearm” thing because he lost control of the ball briefly in between some of those steps.

    I get it. He caught the ball by most standards. He didn’t by NFL rules and occasionally, that happens. It’s not a huge deal

  4. Oh, give it a rest already.
    Going deep on 4th and 2 was dumb to begin with.

    Everyone assumes the Cowboys would have won that game and they completely forget they would have had to:
    – score a TD
    – convert a 2 pt conversion just to put them 3 points ahead
    -stop Rodgers who had a 125.4 rating in the game to drive down the field.
    -Stop Lacy who was averaging 5.3 ypc
    -Crosby to miss a FG who was already 2/2
    -or go into overtime and stop Rodgers again somehow.

    Win by the rules that everyone else has to win by.

  5. yes, clearly making one comment in the off season immediately following the game, probably in response to a direct question, the man is dwelling on it.

  6. He didn’t have control of the ball. If you give him that catch then you are changing the what a catch is.

  7. I’ve got an idea. How about not reverse a penalty call the week prior, and then Dallas wouldn’t have even been in this game with the Packers. That would make more sense than argue about a ball that, by rule, wasn’t a catch.

  8. I had no rooting interest in that game but it’s just common sense, that was a catch. I spent three and a half hours of my life only to see the game end like that, it was just a waste of time.

  9. I think the rule is fine.
    But, turning and reaching for a firstdown or endzone…. should be considered a football move.

  10. I could care less about either team – the eagles are my nfc team, but come on – that was a catch, and garrets right on this one

  11. You establish yourself as a runner after you establish possession of the football, otherwise everyone with 3 fingers on a catch would try to take two steps and lateral the ball to the closest teammate in the area.

    Dez never established possession of the football. Not even close. Sorry. The only reason this has any traction is because its the Cowboys.

  12. I was sort of hoping it would be ruled a catch and/or touchdown just so I could watch the Packers walk down the field, score in a more dramatic fashion to win the game.

    Yes, I am still somewhat bitter over the 90’s domination and want payback! lol

  13. I think the rule is bad, but it’s been on the books for a while and there was even a high profile example of the same thing happening with Megatron. Dez has one job: catch the ball. That he still fails to understand how to make that happen reflects poorly on him and on the Cowboys coaching staff. Instead of doing his job he tried to be a hero and it cost them.

  14. I’m a Packer fan and I agree. That was a catch. The whole fiasco took all of the air and excitement out of the game. It was the first time after a Packers win I almost felt guilty. I feel it was the right call based on the rule, but it’s a lousy rule.

  15. “Garrett pointed out that the Cowboys would have had first-and-goal at the 1-yard line, setting up, potentially, a game as memorable as another Cowboys-Packers battle, the Ice Bowl.”


    We don’t have to go back that far to find another classic goal line stand in the postseason, do we? Help me out. My memory is fuzzy on this.

  16. It was fun to watch Brady carve up the best defense in the history of the world in the SB….especially the two long 4th quarter drives!

  17. The level of stupidity & hate any time the Cowboys are involved in a discussion never fails to amaze me. SMH…

  18. Cowboys shouldn’t have been in the game in the first place, have been the recipients of a blown PI call to get there. So they now complain about a ref’s call? Good Lord.

  19. It was a pretty classic finish if you ask me. Here’s an idea, teach your primadonna receiver what the rules say so he actually makes the catch next time.

  20. Rules stood in the way of a Cowboys victory that day. The week previous? Not a fan of their team but it was the Lions that were robbed. They were the ones who were robbed in the 2014 playoffs. Shut up Garrett

  21. I guess he must have forgotten about what happened in the Lions game the week before and how the Cowboys shouldn’t have even been playing in that game in the first place

  22. Nice try to be diplomatic, but it wasn’t a catch Jason. According to NFL rules a receiver has to transition into a runner. By the time Dez had what could have been possession, when he pinned the ball to his shoulder, he was falling. If a receiver loses control of the ball due to the ground due to the ground after making a falling attempt at a catch it’s incompletion, forearm or not. The football move is a myth, not found in the rules. It’s all about the receiver turning into a runner to show that he has complete possession of the ball.

  23. haters hate…garrett said nothing after this play and i doubt very much he dwells on it but hey this is america and you do have the right to hate..if 3 feet and an extension toward the goaline is not considered a football move or acts common to the game i guess they made the right call….as far as the call in detroit dont forget line 1 of any pass interference call…THE BALL MUST BE CATCHABLE…..watch the replay that ball hit the defender in the ankles…..if that game was fixed sugh would not have been on the field..

  24. To quote a hypocritical coach:

    “We’re talking about the wrong stuff. We’re talking about officiating after a game. I would like to think that I would say that when the call goes against us, and certainly want to say it when the call goes for us. There’s a lot of calls in a game that impact the game and we never really try to get caught up with those as coaches and players. You try to play and coach the game to the best of our ability. There’s a lot of great things that happened in that ball game yesterday, and I think a lot of people are talking about the wrong things. You talk about what happened during the game and the positive things that happened for our football team, how good a football team they are and the battle that we went through and the challenge that we went through to have to win that game.”

  25. By the letter of the law, the call was the correct one. Unfortunately the letter of the law doesn’t agree with what “feels” like a catch. Did it look like a catch? If there weren’t 57 replays in super slow mo, would you call it a catch?

    So, if the rule was worded differently, and that had been called a catch, there could have been a much better finish to that game instead of the anti-climactic ending to an otherwise decent game. And I don’t think there would have been nearly as much controversy about it if that was a catch within the rules of the game.

    A great ending also assumes that Tony “Captain Choke” Romo, or Demarco “Butterfinger” Murray don’t cough up the ball on the next play. You can’t say with certainty that the end result would have been different other than there would have been at least one more play for the Cowboys on offense.

  26. Has there ever been a series of more unlikely events then what occurred this year in the play-offs? First Detroit loses to Dallas on a reversed penalty call. Then the following week Dallas loses to Green Bay due to the non-catch call. Next up Green Bay melts down in the final minutes of their game with Seattle. Lastly, Seattle throws the ball from the one yard line which results in an interception. It was like every time one team benefited from the other team’s misfortune they were destined to pass it on to the next team they played.

  27. The in-completion prevented a classic finish, not a rule. Look at it again….without drinking Cowboy Cool-Aid.

    Just because he made an unbelievable reach and touch at a critical time, doesn’t mean he gets credit for a catch.

    If it had been routine, across the middle at the 45, eight minutes to go in the first quarter with no score, and the receiver goes to the ground, the ball makes contact with the ground and pops loose, it’s a no-catch. Every time.

  28. Jason you are right. The Lions should have started and finished that game. Cowboys should have been sitting on their couches at home.

  29. Far more crying from Lions fan on these comments than any Garrett did.

    Stafford had the ball and fumbled it away twice, got lucky and got it back once. You lost, you lost, and it would have been offsetting with the TE grabbing Hitchens facemask anyway.

  30. “And Dez Bryant getting three feet and a forearm down….”

    Garrett seems to have left out that the ball also hit the ground, then came loose…

    Any game of the year, with any score, anywhere on the field, with any amount of time remaining, it’s still not a catch. The stakes don’t change how the rules are applied (or shouldn’t atleast).

  31. How is it a catch when the tip of the ball hits the ground when Dez initially touched down (incompletion), and, then, he bobbles it before completing the process.

    Both parts of the situation define incompletion.

    The ref and Dean Blandino stated these reasons.

    Thus, why does Garrett and so many others continue to express the play was a catch?

  32. Lot of ignorant comments here, lets get just one thing clear, when a catch isn’t a catch, you’ve lost the purity, spirit and the integrity of the game, Period, Dez isn’t the only one that has been robbed of a catch and the rule definitely needs clarification. I feel sorry for a lot of these people whose comments are hating on the ‘boys, obviously they cheer for teams w/ no chance, EVER! Other than ALL THAT,
    Ball was CAUGHT w/2 hands while still in the air before he came to the ground, then he switched it to his left (non-dominant) hand, ball bounced up when his hand (which was underneath the ball) bounced off the turf causing the ball to pop straight up, he maintained possession w/o the ball EVER hitting the ground independently on it’s on, therefore, it was and SHOULD have been ruled a CATCH AND a TD, EVERYBODY w/ a brain knows it. From some of these comments I can see most of you can spell, it just appears that you can’t SEE.

  33. Man. This was so obviously not a catch that I just can’t see what the people who say it was are seeing. And they’re not just cowboys fans.

    I also don’t understand the confusion over the rule or why the nfl itself complicates it so. When I coach (I know, not the nfl) we simplify it: there are two parts to a catch— control of the ball and control of the body. You must have both at the same time to have a catch.

    Control of the ball is easy to spot… No bobbles. Dez had that and I guess that’s what all the catch truthers think you need.

    Control of the body is harder. You need to be upright and balanced (in a position to control your next move) or be at rest on the ground. You can’t be in the air, stumbling, going to the ground, or controlled by a defender. Dez was stumbling and never had “control of his body” on that play until he came to rest on the ground and by that point he lost the ball. No catch! And it seemed so obvious to me when you simplify the rule.

  34. packattack1967 says:
    Mar 27, 2015 11:04 AM
    Thankfully my teams head coach isn’t a petulant child. Good Lord.
    Your coach is a game manager and nothing more

  35. i don’t understand, should it be a catch?

    are the rules clear as to why it’s not a catch? absolutely

    the controversy should be over the rule, not the outcome of that play…did the cowboys submit a change to the catch rule in the offseason? not rhetorical, i don’t know the answer…

  36. Burned by Calvin rule serves the Jerry’s right. Should have been Det @ Sea and Car @ GB if not for officiating wimps on Pettigrew pass and multiple obvious not-called holdings on Suh on the drive that put Dal ahead. Would have been Sea v GB NFC championship anyway. My Lions will never be anything as long as old Ford’s and kiss-axx front office is in still place. Need a 6-10 year so Martha turns it over to Junior and he fires Lewand & Mayhew for screwing up draft after draft and salary cap.

  37. I disagree, that non-catch enabled one of the most memorable finishes in the history of the game. The nfccg was classic.

  38. “Dez Bryant getting three feet and a forearm down”

    Bryant has 3 legs ? No wonder he’s so fast.

  39. Here is a crazy idea…just catch the ball cleanly and there is nothing to worry about. With the gloves these guys wear he should have been able to catch it with the back of his hand. Ask Odell Beckham….

  40. I’m a Cowboy fan and I don’t think it was a catch. Didn’t then and don’t now. Dez should have secured the ball, then it would have been a catch.

    Also, that “call” didn’t cost them the game, just like the reverse in the Lion game didn’t cost the Lions the game. Dallas and Detroit both had enough time after the calls to do something and both failed to do so. Personally I felt like the Murray fumble was more of a game changer than the Dez non-catch.

  41. “And Dez Bryant getting three feet and a forearm down”

    So that’s Bryant’s secret? Three feet?

  42. Plus, if you guys can just stop calling holding and offsides, that will help make for a more dramatic finish as well.

    Since, I mean, that’s more important than the actual rules…

  43. So the fact that someone ACTUALLY has to CATCH the ball robbed the NFL of a classic finish. So now I guess Garrett thinks that the Refs should just give the ball to the offense just because the WR touched the ball. Awww, the Cowboys trying to get rules made up just for them.

  44. Lions fans. Listen. 8 minutes left to win. You didn’t. Garrett said that it was a catch and didn’t say it was the reason they lost. Unlike you. He also didn’t say they would have won.

  45. I like the catch Cobb had right before the first half. Lol. He made a football move by catching it right after the nose of the ball bounced off the ground. Yea that was no doubt a catch. Jeez

  46. Maybe they should make that reviewable…

    “The Head Coach is challenging that the play does not fit into the fairy-tale scenario he had drawn up in his head”

  47. You don’t change rules because you didn’t like the outcome. The rule is clear which is why it won’t change. Come up with a better rule that can be applied and the league will be all ears but this idea that the rule should be so subjective that people want to say “if it looks like a catch, than its a catch” isn’t a rule that can be applied.

  48. If the player had gone to the ground protecting the ball and understanding the rule it could have been a great finish as well.

  49. “Why do only bad things happen to the Cowboys”? – Come root for the Browns for five minutes, you’ll want that one back

  50. He went three feet and got an arm down, but he NEVER HAD POSSESSION OF THE BALL. He was bobbling the ball as soon as Shields hit it, and he never got control of it. The call was right, and the Cowboys need to stop whining.

  51. If the Lions weren’t robbed, Dallas wouldn’t have been in that game in the first place.

  52. And had the refs not picked up the flag for pass interference in the Lion/Cowboy wildcard game, there would have a been a Lions/Packers playoff game.

  53. If that call had not been overturned, it would have likely led to the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl.

    The reason why is simple. The Dallas Cowboys would have run it in from the 1-yard line for the game winning score. Then later in the week when Pete Carroll was watching game film to get ready for Dallas, he would see the play and say “oh, that’s what I should do if we ever get the ball down on the one yard line.”

  54. Just caught tail end of catch rule on PFT TV.

    ” and establish themselves as a runner ”

    Could this negate the tip toe side line / corner end zone catches ?

  55. Te catch rule robbed the NFL of a classic finish? Really??

    Even if it was ruled a catch and they scored, they would have been up by 2 points with over 4 minutes to go. The Packers drove down the field afterwards with ease and parked their offense in FG range at the Cowboys 22 yard line and ran out the clock. They could have kicked a chip shot field goal or had plenty of time to even go for a TD.

    Garrett is a buffoon for not being smarter than this.

  56. toosh1 says:

    The Cowboys continue to cry.

    Name one who wouldn’t in that situation.

  57. FIRST off, the ball left his hands when he tried to stop his fall and slammed the ball on the ground. Rules state the receiver must maintain possession throughout the entire catch, especially when contact to the ground occurs.
    SECOND, Rodgers was as hot as he could be that second half. No way that Dallas defense is keeping GB’s offense from scoring with 4 minutes left.
    All in all, I guess you’re right Mr. Garrett. It would’ve been cool to see Rodgers leading the Packers dominant offense on a game – winning drive. 😉

  58. A better written rule would not have made it a catch, but rather made it more clear that it was not a catch. The only way it would be a catch it to change the rule.

  59. Player Going to the Ground.

    If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.

    Nuff said.

  60. if he had control of the ball, it would have never came out of his hands.

    losers make excuses .
    players make plays.

  61. No. Dez Bryant robbed us of a classic finish by not completing the catch. He is a professional. He should understand the risk he was taking by not holding on to the ball through the process of the catch.

    You either believe that Dez was shuffling his legs as he fell to the ground or that he was taking steps. He was clearly falling to the ground and not in control of his body; ergo, he needed to control the ball as he went to the ground.

    The only thing complicated here are people’s emotions about what they wanted to happen. Not the rule or it’s interpretation.

  62. As a Cowboys fan, the rule is fine the way it’s written and interpreted. My team needs a real GM and a real Head Coach, then we won’t have to depend on a rule change to win big games.

  63. So about half the people here think it was a catch and half dont, I guess that about sums it up.

  64. Let me ask you guys this …. Let’s say hypothetically that Dez made the catch. Not ruled a catch, but actually made the catch. And then from there the Cowboys somehow won the game. Do you think Jerrah would have opened his pocketbook and shelled out over $100 million for Dez??

    What do you guys think?

  65. harrisonhits2 says:
    Mar 27, 2015 12:10 PM

    “Dez Bryant getting three feet and a forearm down”

    Bryant has 3 legs ? No wonder he’s so fast.

    We disagree a lot, but that was pretty Damn funny.

    Also, gravity is not a football move.

  66. No, Jason. Des trying to be a hero and losing control of the football kept the game from being more exciting. Even if Dallas scores there, Rodgers and the Packers offense was moving the ball at will for the entire 4th quarter and would have easily gotten into scoring position with 3 minutes left. The problem Dallas had in the game I their defense ran out of gas. Offense played great and good enough to win. I was at the game and it was pretty awesome. Best game I have ever been too in my life.

  67. You know what else is great for the game Jason?

    That the NFL doesn’t try to massage outcomes for what they consider great for ratings.

    It should have been Detroit playing GB, not Dallas.

  68. Jason needs to focus on the 2015 season. By the way the Packers would have marched right down the field and scored anyway. The pokes had four minutes to come up with a stop… and couldn’t.

  69. Someone said the ball never touched the ground.
    Excuse me? Look at the replay. The tip of the ball clearly hits the ground when he goes down and, then, he bobbles it. So it was incomplete as soon as the ball touched the ground. It’s so obvious.

  70. And there was me thinking it was Bryant’s failure to complete the catch that robbed us of a great finish…

  71. NO ginger it was just another ending to a Cowboy playoff game.
    New year same ending

  72. If Randall Cobb’s “catch” before halftime was a catch then Dez’s was a catch. No sense in everybody arguing about it now Garrett was just answering a question. The catch/no catch didn’t cost Dallas the game IMO Demarcos inability to hold onto the ball with open field in front of him did and before anybody jumps on my comment and says I’m only saying it was Demarco because he no longer plays for Dallas don’t bother cause I said it and felt it then too as did many Cowboy fans. Fortunately the Eagles and Chump Kelly took that problem off Dallas’ hands and they will be back next year.

  73. Sorry, sports fans and Cowboys fans, of which I am one, but there is no way this play could be deemed a “catch.”
    Oh, Dez Bryant did have two hands on the ball and both feet on the ground as he lunged forward, but he did not maintain possession and control of the ball as he fell to the ground. He regained control of the ball after he was down and after the ball had touched the ground. That might be a “catch,” but it is not a reception. And that is the distinction.
    A receiver must maintain possession and control of the ball while executing a football move or an act common to the game. Falling forward is not a football move. Losing possession and control of the ball while falling forward is not a “catch,” it’s bobbling the ball. Regaining possession and control after the receiver is down, after the ball has hit the ground, is not a reception. It’s an incomplete pass, plain and simple.
    I could care less about Jason Garrett’s sense of drama. I could care less about what Jerry Jones thinks about anything. The former is no Tom Landry, and the latter is no Tex Schramm.
    Nor is Romo an Aikman or Bryant an Irvin, much less a Staubach and a Pearson. Those men won games by completing plays.
    Bryant did not complete the play. Cry about it all you want, but that is the reality.
    How far the Cowboys have fallen, lo, these last 20 years. To whine and complain about the rules after a loss is a new low. And, frankly, it’s embarrassing.

  74. Actually no. The classic finish and catch came a week later during the GB v Seattle game. Everyone knows that!

  75. vikings28 says: Mar 27, 2015 5:52 PM

    Green Bay rubes, lol!! They’d be singing a different tune if it was Lordy Jordy!! Ha!

    When Calvin’s “catch” was ruled incomplete I couldn’t believe it…until the rule was explained shortly afterwards. Then I understood why it was ruled incomplete. I hate the Bears significantly more than the Lions. Plus, had that been ruled a catch and the Lions won, the Packers would have had a first round bye that year. I would have LOVED for it to be a catch, but I knew, based on the rules, it wasn’t.

    If that happened to Jordy, I would want it to be a catch, but I am smart enough to understand the rules and realize that it shouldn’t be.

  76. Fact number 1: Dez’s catch was ruled complete down on the 1 yard line
    Fact number 2: The ruling was overturned based on video evidence
    Fact number 3: Overturning a play that was challenged requires undisputable video evidence
    Fact number 4: The dispute goes on

    I will leave to you rocket scientists to figure out what went wrong.

  77. The rule that the play ends when you step out of bounds has an effect. Also, the rule that a field goal only counts if it goes over the cross bar. Then you have the rule that the game ends after 60 minutes unless it’s a tie.

    All of those darn rules sure do add up.

    I’ll bet Dallas would win a lot more games if the officials would just enforce the ones that help the Cryboys.

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