Report: NFL Meets To Fix The Catch Rule
The NFL Competition Committee met Monday and appears genuinely interested in fixing the catch rule. NFL Network's Judy Battista reports that the committee could potentially eliminate the "going to the ground" part of the rule, which last season robbed Steelers tight end Jesse James of a go-ahead touchdown against the Patriots, and in the process cost Pittsburgh home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The most infuriating part is that the officials made the correct call. According to the rules, James did not, in fact, complete the catch.
"We were inside of two minutes and in order to have a completed pass, a receiver must survive going to the ground," referee Tony Corrente told The Athletic's Mark Kaboly after the Week 15 game. "In this case, he had control of the football but he was going to the ground. As he hit the ground, the ball began to roll and rotate and the ball hit the ground and that's the end of it at that point."
This is the same reason Dez Bryant's catch in the Cowboys-Packers 2015 playoff game was ruled an incomplete pass.
Interestingly, referee Gene Steratore ruled that Bryant's catch wasn't, you know, a catch, though in February's Super Bowl, he ruled that Zach Ertz had in fact scored a touchdown:
Given the league's history, we were shocked Ertz's catch wasn't overturned, though former NFL head of officials Mike Pereira speculated afterwards that commissioner Roger Goodell might have intervened.
"I tell you, I talk to enough coaches and enough members of the competition committee that they weren't happy," Pereira told the Talk of Fame Podcast earlier this month. "So I think the word trickled to Goodell and Goodell probably sat down with [vice president of officiating] Alberto [Riveron], who he has a great amount of respect for, and just said 'Hey, you gotta realize here, you gotta make an adjustment, you're being too technical.' And they probably did listen to not only me, but to [former VP of officiating Dean] Blandino, who was the guy making the decisions. And when he criticized them, something had to be askew. And that's to me when it probably started to turn."
Whatever the case, it sounds like the catch rule could be changing for the better (though we can't imagine how it could be made worse). In fact, Giants owner John Mara tells ESPN.com's Kevin Siefert that the competition committee appears to have unanimous agreement that the Dez Bryant ruling, and the Calvin Johnson ruling that started this whole mess, both should have been ruled complete.
This is where we point out that Johnson's touchdown that was ruled an incomplete pass happened in 2011. And now, more than six years later, it looks like the NFL is finally ready to fix the catch rule.