Sunday’s win by the Saints over the Panthers included a late touchdown by the Saints that extended the home team’s lead from 31-30 to 38-30. The pass from Drew Brees to tight end Josh Hill initially was ruled incomplete. Via replay review, the ruling on the field was overturned.
“What the receiver did is he ended up getting two feet down inbounds,” referee Walt Anderson told a pool reporter after the game. “He had full control of the ball. He was brought to the ground. So he went to the ground out of bounds, but he maintained control of the football while out of bounds and then subsequent to his getting control and completing the catch process, then the defender ended up stripping the ball out. So he had actually completed the process of the catch, which is why it was reversed to a touchdown.”
A player who goes to the ground while making a catch isn’t required to keep the ball indefinitely. He merely has to hold the ball through the process of landing. Hill had the ball long enough to justify a finding that the touchdown had been scored before the ball was knocked free.