clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Was the Dez Bryant play a catch or not?

Everyone on the Internet has an opinion.

Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

On Sunday, the Internet was abuzz with the debate about the Dez Bryant catch (or non-catch, as it was ruled). Some feel he was jobbed by the rules. Others feel it was the right call. Others just see it as karma for the calls made (or not made) when the Cowboys played the Lions just a week before.

What do you think?

Here is the play:


And a little bit slower:

He high-points the ball and makes a very athletic play. He gets three feet down, but the ball touches the ground and moves as Bryant comes to the ground.

Here's where the debate comes in.

Some feel because he got three feet down and was diving for the end zone, he was making a "football move."

The way the refs saw it, he made a catch and was going to the ground as part of the catch.

What do the rules say?

Player Going to the Ground. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control,the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.

What do you think? What if this were Michael Floyd or Larry Fitzgerald? Would you think the call is correct?

This is my take:

I thought it was a textbook case of falling to the ground. If he had caught the ball and had landed cleanly with both feet on the ground, clearly with his balance, and made a dive for the end zone, it would have been a catch and then the ball coming loose after he was down by contact.

The only real debate there should be is this -- was he already going to the ground, or did he have control and then make a move, which is what took him to the ground?

The issue is that, to me, he was clearly going to the ground on the catch. He never had his balance. Once in that scenario, he has to maintain control of the ball all the way through. If the ball moves when it touches the ground, it is incomplete. To me, it was cut-and-dried. It was a great play and it was very unfortunate it happened the way it did. However, he should have secured the ball, rather than reach out with it.

Is the rule a dumb rule?

The "Calvin Johnson rule" has been ridiculed a number of times. The problem is this -- if you define it any other way, you are making it so much more difficult to officiate. You have to consider "intent" and other things. The definition of maintaining control through the entire process of going to the ground is the only clear way to define it. Any other way and you end up with some non-catches being called catches.

The rules in the NFL are already heavily weighted to favor the offensive player these days, anyway. This would be just one case that doesn't favor them.

The bottom line? The rule is written the best way it can be for these types of plays and the call was the right one. And were it a Cardinals player in the same situation, it should be called the same way.