Lost in Saturday’s Cincinnati Asylum game were many intriguing plays, including a touchdown catch from Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant that featured the ball being pinned against his leg as he flipped forward out of bounds.
In a weekly video that reviews several key calls from wild-card weekend, NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino explains that he believes it wasn’t a catch — but that he also believes that there was insufficient evidence to overturn the ruling on the field of a catch.
“I don’t think this is a catch,” Blandino said. “If I just had a blank slate and I could say, ‘Do you think it’s a catch or not a catch’?, I would said no catch. But the ruling on the field was a catch, and we have to see clear and obvious evidence that it’s not a catch.”
Blandino emphasized it’s not a catch rule question but a replay rule issue.
“Is there indisputable evidence to overturn the ruling on the field of a catch?” he said. “It was ruled a catch on the field, so the basic premise of replay since its inception is the call on the field is presumed correct unless we have indisputable visual evidence that it is incorrect, then we can make a change. You watch the play live, and the question is going to be control. Initial control. Bryant is going to pin the ball against his leg . . . and then as he rolls over he’s going to maintain that control. And again the issue, did he have control with the right foot down? There is some movement, Slight movement does not necessarily mean loss or lack of control. He pins the ball against his leg there. Is the foot still down as he starts to go to the ground? . . . Again, not indisputable.”
There could be some dispute as to whether the evidence is indisputable. But that simply proves the evidence isn’t indisputable. It’s not clear. That’s what the replay rule is aimed at addressing.
So the Bryant catch falls into the category of plays that wouldn’t be overturned regardless of the ruling on the field. In this case, and in real time, the officials regarded it to be a catch. With the available evidence, there was no way to overturn it.