When the NFL makes a controversial decision on replay-review, the NFL often posts a video explaining the decision on social media.
It happened today, after an attempted interception by Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters resulted in a ruling of an incomplete pass. To overturn the decision on the field, the league office would be required to find clear and obvious evidence that the ruling on the field was wrong.
“We’re in Indianapolis, where the ruling on the field is that of an incomplete pass,” NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron explains while two different angles of the video are played. “After review, we have clear and obvious viusal evidence where the defender controls the football, takes three steps, fumbles the ball, and then is ulimtately recovered by the defense. Therefore, the ruling on the field was changed to an interception, and the defense keeps the ball, first and 10.”
The NFL’s latest attempt to define a catch (and also an interception) has tried to take something inherently subjective and make it objective. The third-step requirement does that, and Peters definitely took a third step.
The question is whether it was clear and obvious that Peters had possession of the ball while taking all three three steps. If you look at it once, he didn’t. Look at it again, he did. Watch it again, he didn’t.
That would seem to make the question of possession neither clear nor obvious. Which in this case arguably should have prompted the league to stick with the ruling on the field.