Lions' loss brings another look at an NFL rule
The call wasn't as critical as the tuck rule, coming as it did in the first game of the season rather than the playoffs, but what happened to the Lions on Sunday no doubt will bring another look at the possession rule from the NFL Competition Committee.
"That's a catch," Tony Dungy said Sunday night on NBC of a Shaun-Hill-to-Calvin-Johnson touchdown pass that would have averted the Lions' 19-14 loss to the Bears.. Dungy compared the play to Lance Moore's catch of a two-point conversation pass from Drew Brees in the Super Bowl and asked how one can be a catch and the other an incompletion.
Lions Coach Jim Schwartz wasn't about to pin the blame on officials; as Herman Edwards pointed out, the fault lies with the rule, not with the interpretation. "The time I stand up here blaming the officials for a loss is the time I don't have to do this anymore," Schwartz said.
"I didn't know the rule," former Bears coach Mike Ditka said on ESPN's "Mike and Mike" show. "I thought that once you broke the plane of the goal with possession of the ball, it was a touchdown. ... I think one thing the kid [Calvin Johnson] could have learned is he could have come down with two hands on the ball."
Here's the text of the rule; judge for yourself:
N.F.L. Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 1: 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 after he touches 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.
Sports Illustrated's Peter King writes: I think we'd all agree the Competition Committee needs to tweak this rule because no one can watch that replay and say Johnson's possession is debatable or marginal.
David Cornwell, an Atlanta sports lawyer who has represented players, worked for the NFL and was a candidate for executive director of the NFLPA after the death of Gene Upshaw, tweets: Players held to higher standard. Player makes a mistake and Commissioner fines him. Officials make a blatant mistake - its football.
Wide receiver Bryant Johnson, like Schwartz and the rest of the Lions, worked his way through the play and the loss.
SMH at the end of our game
Proverbs 14:29 "He who is slow to anger, has great understanding". Gotta let what happened yesterday go, learn from it, and move on. #newday
September 13, 2010; 7:55 AM ET
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