I Still Think Calvin Johnson Did Complete “The Process”


I’m still not sure what “the process” is for catching a pass. If you’re looking for an explanation of the rule, you probably won’t find it. I continue to check ESPN.com in an attempt for one of the talking heads to explain which part of “the process” wasn’t completed.

Instead, all I get is an article by NFC North writer Kevin Seifert stating that the call was correct “based on NFL rules.” He quotes the rule:

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.

It’s a three sentence rule, so let’s step through each sentence to see if Calvin “completed the process” or not.

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.

The key phrase in this sentence is “he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground.” Calvin did. He caught the ball, took two steps and fell on his butt. The fall did not jar the ball loose; control was still maintained at that point. So now we have Calvin Johnson on his butt with the ball still clearly controlled in one hand. This should satisfy the entire rule because control was not lost when his body touched the ground. Let’s continue with the next sentence anyway:

If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete.

This part is tricky, and it has to be where the confusion is, but I still don’t see where the play failed to live up to the rule’s standard. Because, clearly, the ball didn’t touch the ground before he regained control. He never lost control before the ball hit the ground in the first place, so I don’t think this portion applies. I think the next sentence clarifies this further:

If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.

This is the one that convinces me that the correct ruling on the play should have been a touchdown. He had control the entire time prior to the ball touching the ground. The rule states: the pass is complete.

It was never a question of possession either. Everyone could see he had full control of the ball with two feet in bounds. The only question was whether or not he maintained control after his body touched the ground. He did. Am I seeing something incorrectly here?

Even after fully reading the rule as written, do you believe Calvin Johnson made the catch?

Loading ... Loading ...

[EDIT: Zac] I don’t mean to add insult to injury but click here to see one play that was ruled a touchdown just last year. The rules haven’t changed since then.

[EDIT: Matt] Another video. This time from the Super Bowl.

Tags: Calvin Johnson Chicago Bears Detroit Lions The Process

  • http://sidelionreport.com/ Zac Snyder

    He possessed the ball all the way to the ground and it didn’t touch the ground until he put it there. Whether the rule was applied correctly or not, the fact that we are debating if that was a catch is completely asinine.

  • http://MotorCityBengals.com John Parent

    I watched the replays a dozen times. That was a catch. Part of the problem I have with the NFL (and there are many) is that they do have such asinine rules that define what constitutes a catch. It’s simple: if the guy catches the ball, then doesn’t drop the ball, it’s a freaking catch. There really shouldn’t be a debate about this one. He caught the ball in the end zone, he maintained possession until HE PUT THE BALL ON THE GROUND. How is this not a catch? Like you said, that we even have to discuss this is asinine.

    • http://sidelionreport.com/ Zac Snyder

      I guess the takeaway lesson from this is that there is a difference between a catch and a completion. This whole thing seems like a Bill Clinton cross-examination.

  • Matt G

    If Johnson “maintained control” as you all contend, then it would have been a fumble. Think on that. The rule is there for a good reason.

    • http://sidelionreport.com/ Zac Snyder

      Disagree, a runner that crosses the goal line and fumbles has scored a touchdown as nothing counts once the ball crosses the plane. For the CJ play to be ruled a fumble it would have to have been ruled a catch first, and therefore a touchdown and the play is over.

    • http://www.motorcitybengals.com Matt Snyder

      I contend that the play should have been called a fumble if it had happened outside of the end zone.

      It’s impossible to ‘fumble’ while you posses the ball in your offensive end zone.

  • Pingback: Tom Lewand Gets Early Return From Suspension, Still No Touchdown | SideLion Report | A Detroit Lions Blog

  • kevinferguson

    Honestly, I looked like a catch BUT, megatron used the ball to get up and made it look like he didn’t have control of the ball. its a swift kick in the pants, but he should be more mature at this point and more concerned with the catch and not how he’s going to celebrate it.

    I don’t think they can win a game without stafford… Welcome to blogging for the Lions guys! Check my podcast with the Cleveland browns guy from ‘waiting til next year’… It puts it all into perspective.