Calvin Johnson Touchdown Ruling: Why the Rule is Wrong, Not the Refs

Dennis Towle Jr.Contributor IDecember 15, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 13: Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers argues with referees including Tom Hill #97 and Jim Mello #48 during a game against of the Chicago Bears on September 13, 2009 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bears 21-15.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images


You can call me a homer, but when I was watching the Green Bay Packers play the Chicago Bears on Sunday, December 13th, I saw what I supposed were definitive replays of a touchdown catch that was ruled incomplete, and I expected the NFL officiating crew to overturn their decision on that catch being incomplete and award the touchdown… or so I thought.

It did not happen after a TV timeout where the audience saw replays from 4 differing angles that confirmed that the receiver, Greg Jennings, caught the ball – secured the ball – and took 3 steps in the endzone before falling out of the back of the endzone and then losing the ball on contact with the ground.

Now, if I have read the NFL rules correctly, if the ball is in possession of the holder and he crosses or breaks the plane of the goal line, it is a touchdown. That being said, the replay clearly shows that Jennings had possession past the goal line within the endzone and therefore should have had his catch ruled a touchdown.

The NFL rules also state that a receiver, in order to qualify a reception, must be able to maintain two feet inbounds. That being said, Jennings took three steps inbounds with the ball and therefore should have had his catch ruled a touchdown.

Again, the NFL rules state that a receiver needs to control the ball in order to qualify a reception. That being said, if you watch the replays you will note that Jennings secured the ball first before his feet touched the ground. Jennings never bobbled the ball while he took his three steps inbounds and therefore should have had his catch ruled a touchdown.

In addition, the NFL states that the ground cannot cause a fumble if the ball was secured prior to contact with the ground. That being said, Jennings did not bobble the ball and maintained control of the ball and did not lose the ball until contacting the ground with his elbow and therefore should have had his catch ruled a touchdown.

Of course, that's what I saw… as a matter of fact, that's what every viewer watching the game saw… as a further matter of fact, that's what the scoreboard replay in Chicago showed. Funny, that's not what Head Referee Mike Carey saw. He stated that the receiver did not maintain the ball out of bounds and therefore it was an incomplete pass.

Even Chicago fans groaned at that ruling.

What in God's good name was he watching? Where did you get your NFL training? Have you had your eyes checked lately? Do you know the correct implementation of NFL rules in regards to this situation?

Number one: three steps in the endzone with a secured ball constitutes a catch in anyone's books – period! Number two: you don't need to control the ball all the way through the endzone if you are already in the endzone, once you cross that goal line threshold you have a TD – period! Number three: once you break the plane of the goal line and score a TD, the rest is moot…

How a professional referee with his advanced pedigree could ignore obvious facts, rules, and video replay to misrule a catch is beyond me and a lot of other people's imaginations. If I didn't know any better, I’d have to go so far as to insinuate that there was something very fishy about this call… does anyone have Tim Donaghy's number?