It’s become easy (and at times fun) to blame the NFL for the inability to discern when a catch is a catch and when a catch is not a catch. Sometimes, however, the confusion (feigned or otherwise) about a ruling regarding whether a catch was or wasn’t a catch comes from the self-interest of the critic and not from a desire to be fair and objective.
Case in point: Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. complained after Sunday’s loss to the Patriots about the touchdown catch that was overturned via automatic replay review.
“You can’t leave it up to the officials to get anything right,” Beckham said, via Kevin Armstrong of the New York Daily News. “I caught it.”
He caught it, but he didn’t hold it long enough.
The play was no different than the non-catch made by former Ravens receiver Lee Evans at the end of the 2011 AFC title game. Possession and two feet down wasn’t enough.
The league’s position, per a source with knowledge of it, is that the call was absolutely right. A catch is complete once the receiver gets two feet down and maintains control long enough to become a runner. There’s a time element, and Beckham failed to meet it because the ball was knocked from his possession as soon as his second foot came down.
When the ball is knocked loose at the same time as the second foot hits, the pass is incomplete. Period. If he has it long enough to get a third foot down or to turn or to brace for contact or to spike the football or to hand it to the official, the pass is complete.
The requirement applies wherever a catch occurs, in the end zone or in the field of play. And while the ruling on the field complicates the situation, the decision that indisputable visual evidence existed to overturn the ruling was the correct one. The defensive back knocked the ball out of Beckham’s possession before he held it long enough, and the easy solution is that he should have held it a little bit longer.
Indeed, when Evans failed to hold the ball long enough in 2011, no one suggested that it should have been a catch. Now, because of the at-times confusing rules that are applied accurately far more often than not, those with a bias have the ability to dispute any ruling on a close calls regarding a catch, whether they are absolutely right or, in this case, flat wrong.