Posted by Danny Goldin on September 22, 2010 Jump To Comments
The Packers and Bears face off on Monday night, and the matchup couldn’t me much better. Two age-old rivals in bordering states. Two loyal and raucous fanbases. Two quarterbacks who have both looked great so far (we know Rodgers is amazing, while the jury is still hung on Cutler). Monday Night Football. And finally, two 2-0 teams at the top of their division.
But, should the Bears really be 2-0? As you may have heard, the Lions’ Calvin Johnson seemingly caught a touchdown that was ruled an incomplete pass that would have resulted in a Lions victory over Chicago in Week 1. Scratch that… you obviously heard about it, as it was the most overplayed video clip and overdiscussed topic following the NFL’s opening week. While I realize some may be sick of the topic by now, an extra week to think about it and a Reggie Wayne catch from Sunday night have me wanting to bring it up once more.
Just to refresh, here is a clip of the now infamous non-catch. Despite the fact the Johnson secures the ball in the air, comes down with two feet, AND maintains full possession as his backside hits the ground, the officials in the game ruled it an incompletion since he dropped the ball as he braced his fall with his right hand. The NFL has since commended those officials and stated that the correct call was made, citing this quote from the NFL rulebook:
“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 after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone.”
Here’s what few people, however, have pointed out: Johnson WAS NOT going to the ground in the act of catching the pass. No. On the contrary, Johnson was several feet in the air, boxing out Bears cornerback Zack Bowman during his act of catching the pass. Thus, when he came down with two feet and maintained full possession of the ball, that’s all you need to know for that catch to be a legal completion. Catch good. Lions six points. Bears lose, unless they score in the final 24 seconds of the game. It should have been as simple as that.
Don’t believe me? Fast forward a week later to the Colts’ Sunday night blowout win over the Giants. I don’t blame you if you didn’t stay up to watch it, but I had fantasy implications riding on the game and thus was glued to my TV the entire time. Yes, I am a huge nerd with no soul.
Anyway, Reggie Wayne had a touchdown grab in the fourth quarter that immediately reminded me of the Johnson ruling from the week before. Here is a clip of Wayne’s reception. The play was ruled a completion, without any discussion by the referees. Cris Collinsworth had an interesting take on why it was indeed a completion. “Reggie Wayne caught it, got two feet down, and he wasn’t taken to the ground. If he had been, and lost this ball, it would have been incomplete. The fact that he stayed up is going to mean that it counts as a touchdown.”
Wait a second. So Cris, you’re saying that if a player catches a ball, comes down with two feet, and then loses control of the ball while he’s still standing up, it IS a catch? But if a player catches a ball, comes down with two feet, and then loses control of the ball while he’s on the ground, it ISN’T a catch?
Now, Cris isn’t the head of officials, so this explanation should not be taken as an official statement by the NFL. Still, it is clear to me that Johnson’s grab was at least as much of a completion as Wayne’s, if not a clearer catch given that Johnson actually possessed the ball for a longer period of time, and actually had two things happen (feet down, butt down) while controlling the ball, while Wayne only had one (feet down).
Sure, the Bears are 2-0, and that perfect record definitely makes for a more intriguing matchup this Monday night. But the fact of the matter is that they shouldn’t be. They should be 1-1. Johnson, the Lions, and the entire city of Detroit got robbed by the NFL.
You can e-mail Danny at email@example.com.