Blandino confirms what could be new approach to catch rule


Before that epic finish to Saturday night’s game between the Packers and Cardinals, Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald made a catch that, under the NFL’s formulation of what is and isn’t a catch, appeared to be not a catch. Surprisingly, the replay process resulted in a decision that the ruling on the field was correct, and that Fitzgerald had caught it.

In the weekly officiating video distributed by the NFL, league V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino explained that there was not enough evidence to overturn the ruling on the field that Fitzgerald, who went to the ground and lost possession upon landing, had become a runner.

“He ruled that the player had the ball long enough to be a runner, and if it’s not clear and obvious that he was not a runner, then the call on the field must stand,” Blandino said, emphasizing that Fitzgerald turned his body to move up the field before landing on the ground. “This is close. It’s questionable as to whether he did become a runner. And that’s the key. Again, the basic premise of replay is that the call on field is presumed correct unless we have indisputable evidence that it’s incorrect. This was not indisputable, not definitive. There is a subjective element to this rule. . . . It was questionable. That’s why the call on the field stood.”

It’s a reasonable explanation. And it’s arguably the same explanation that should have been provided a year ago, when Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant caught the ball in the air, came down, fell toward the ground, and turned his body in a lunge to the goal line, with the football cradled in his forearm.

In that case, the ruling on the field — from the official who was right there — was that Dez had become a runner. The same subjectivity that allowed Fitzgerald’s catch to stand should have applied to Bryant; it was not indisputable that Bryant hadn’t become a runner, so the ruling from the official who made the call of a catch should have been enforced.

Unless and until the catch rule changes, the NFL handled the rule the right way in the Green Bay-Arizona game. Whether a receiver had the ball long enough to become a runner requires subjective interpretation that should not be overturned unless clearly wrong. While that does nothing more than a year later for Dez Bryant and the Cowboys, it gives the NFL a more effective way to apply the rule that’s currently on the books.

36 responses to “Blandino confirms what could be new approach to catch rule

  1. The headline could have read “Blandino confirms what every adult outside of Wisconsin already knew: Dez caught the ball.”

  2. Anyone think Packer fans might whine about Fitzy’s catch not being a catch? They should be satisfied with the gift they got last year, although that led to one of the most devastating defeats any franchise has ever endured the next week.

  3. I’m not still salty now, because the events all led to the firing of Lombardi and Mayhew, but really Dez shouldn’t have even been playing that day.

  4. If the ball touchs the ground at any point before the wr is declared a runner or has possision then it’s a drop or incomplete pass period. the nfl and all these rule changes caused this.. in the 90s if the ball hit the ground period it was incomplete. Control or no control if the ball touched the ground before you became a runner or declared to have had full possession it was a drop.. there you go problem solved.

    Ex dez bryant never had control, ball hit the ground while in process of catching it. No cath.

    Calvin Johnson caught the ball, before completing the catch ball hit the ground and he lost control of it. No catch.

    Ball touch the groun incomplete end of this silly debate on what is or isnt a catch.

  5. Dez did not become a runner and Dez did not complete the process. No catch. Give the poor Cowboys fans some closure. It’s time they realized that the ruling was correct.

    As for the runner bit. The magic line of becoming a runner lies between step two and step three.

  6. Well let’s see there was a play in the 2nd Eagles-Skins game that was the same exact play and it was ruled “no catch”. Kelly challenged it and the call on the field was upheld. Riley Cooper caught a 40 yard bomb from Bradford at the Eagles 45, turned his body upfield, went 2 yards, was tackled, and as his elbow hit the ground, he lost control of the ball but recovered it. They ruled it was an incomplete pass. So, when then is the reciever ruled a runner–as soon as he secures the ball and runs upfield for 2 yards or as soon as he turns his body upfield with the ball tucked away?

  7. Somehow for 40 years I knew what a catch was, then Blandino et al came along and I didn’t but now without my perception having changed one iota he tells me I once again know a catch when I see one until, of course, the next time when despite still not having changed my perception I will once again no longer know what a catch is…
    Obviously I do not drink enough for this. Pass the ibuprofen

  8. “the basic premise of replay is that the call on field is presumed correct unless we have indisputable evidence that it’s incorrect”

    Time to change the premise. When reviewing, scrap the call on the field. Decide which way you want to rule the “can’t tell” catches and let the guy(s) who made the call view the replay and make the right call based that rule.

  9. “If it’s not clear and obvious he was not a runner…”

    Stop the verbal gymnastics. Just admit that you screwed up the catch rule and go back to what it was before 2006 and the “football move” nonsense. You sound like you a complete idiot, Blandino.

  10. How could you compare this to the Dez catch?

    Fitz catches the ball, takes 2 steps in one direction then takes a third step up the field then to the ground and out of bounds.

    Dez catches the ball, takes 2 steps and on that second step he is almost to the ground. So you can say the catch and going to the ground was all in one motion. Then the ball hits the ground, pops out…

    Steps alone Fitz took more, movement alone Fitz did more. Catch alone Fitz held on more. So dunno how they continue to compare this. If anything Fitz caught the ball, took 2 steps, made a football move and becomes a runner. This is not rocket science.

  11. They also keep saying Dez lunged after the catch, what lunge? He was falling to the ground. He didnt lunge, you are just going off what Dez is saying.

  12. What exactly is the “new approach” here? The rules already explicitly say that calls aren’t supposed to be overruled unless there is positive video proof they were wrong. That still doesn’t stop them from ignoring that and changing things willy-nilly every week. We’ll see this exact sort of play be called the other way before the playoffs are over.

  13. All Blandino is missing is the red rubber nose and the big shoes.
    Clown top to bottom.
    Figures he’s such an important person in the NFL front office.

  14. Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t that always been the directive of any review?

    If you cannot definitively tell that a play was the opposite of what was called, that it must stand?

    In the case of Dez’s catch/non-catch, because you cannot definitively tell that he was NOT attempting a football play through his lunge, the play must stand as originally called.

    On the flip side, had the catch been originally ruled as an incomplete pass, because they cannot definitively say he was making a football play the call would have stood as incomplete. I thought that was how it always should be..

  15. Sidelines/End zone: Control + 2 feet down = catch

    Anywhere else on field: Control + 3 feet down = catch (which will limit bang-bang catch/fumbles where the receiver doesn’t have time to protect the ball)

    Simple. Clear. Makes life easier for officials. That’s all they have to do.

  16. I can’t claim that I know what is and isn’t a catch, and by gut feeling I don’t know which of these catches should stand.

    But you can’t compare the two rulings directly.

    Fitzgerald was ruled a runner on the field, so that’s what was challenged there. There wasn’t enough evidence to overturn.

    Dez was ruled as making a diving catch, which he clearly didn’t complete. Should he have been ruled a runner on account of his lunge, which would have made the pass complete? Maybe, but since he wasn’t ruled so on the field, there wasn’t enough evidence to say he was.

    I don’t necessarily agree with the results, but the replay rulings are a logical effect of the “indisputable visual evidence”-rule.

  17. I think truly the NFL is fixed! With all the money swimming on tv ratings there are rules in place for questionable rulings and allow for mistakes. With all of the incredible high technology and we still can’t determine what is a catch.

    What I don’t like is face mask called on one qb who happens to be high profile team and then a qb on a less popular team and no call.

  18. It’s a catch when Blandino says it’s a catch.

    And by the way, whatever happened to all the conspiracy theorists who thought Blandino was in Jerry’s back pocket because he once got a ride on the Cowboy’s team bus?

  19. In Teddy We Trust says:
    Jan 22, 2016 6:19 PM

    Anyone think Packer fans might whine about Fitzy’s catch not being a catch? They should be satisfied with the gift they got last year, although that led to one of the most devastating defeats any franchise has ever endured the next week.

    I dunno, that meltdown by the Vikings against Seattle was pretty epic. And the Vikings against the Saints in the NFCCG. And the Vikings against Atlanta in the NFCCG. and the Vikings against the Giants in the NFCCG 41-0. Those were pretty hilarious…er, devastating too.

  20. Janis didn’t catch the hail mary at the end of regulation in that game either and it was was far more obvious than Larry’s catch. He bobbled it the whole way to the ground and the DB knocked it to the ground before he ever had control. There is a good slow mo shot that is pretty indisputable. Guess the NFL thought the storyline of a hail mary sending the game into OT was much better.

  21. No one will describe blandino with the the description of intelligence or integrity. Does whatever he wants. The ultimate flip flopper.

  22. Yeah but…

    …all of the catch rules go out the window if the player crosses the plane of the goal line.


    As long as the ball breaks the goal line, he can drop it, have it bobble, fail to do a “football move”, fail to become a runner, whatever.

    So dumb.

    The catch rule should be this: a catch is a catch is a catch. And a referee should have the ability to say, “I overruled the call on the field because, in my opinion, he caught it.” This is Florio’s 100 Drunks in a Bar rule.

    Stop with the complicated rules. We all know when it is a catch. Give the refs that latitude.

  23. Gotta love Blandino and Goodell

    They can’t even decide what a catch is

    They make a huge fuss over ball security and PSI, yet admit they didn’t know the cold affects pressure – and last week the officials simply FORGOT the footballs at the hotel – that’s how LOW a factor the officials consider the footballs in the game

  24. Dez’s one was never a catch under any interpreation of the rules, no idea how the official got it wrong but glad replay was there to correct the mistake.

  25. I know Cowbags’ fans that contend that Jerry Kramer was offside prior to the snap in the Ice Bowl. Oddly enough, those people weren’t alive when the Ice Bowl was played. Sooo… shut the hell up.

    Dez caught the ball. Easy as that.

    Fitzgerald caught the ball. Easy as that.

    It didn’t flip!! Easy as that.

    Packers lost because there were the usual assortment of stupid mental errors and there is an inability on their part to close out important games that they SHOULD have won. Easy as that.

    Can we now get on with the freepin’ games instead of dissecting mentally deficient issues for internet trolls?

    Go Pack.

  26. not to gang green on it, but anyone else think the TD that tied the game was a bobbling catch before the arizona guy knocked it out of his hands and it hurt the turf before the guy had complete possession, and probably should’ve been imcomplete? you watch it in realtime and it was a bobbling catch. just sayin.

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