So What Exactly Is "The Process of The Pass or Catch" To The NFL?

Jennifer TaglioneCorrespondent ISeptember 12, 2010

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 12: Zack Bowman #35 and Danieal Manning #38 of the Chicago Bears break up a pass intended for Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions during the NFL season opening game at Soldier Field on September 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Lions 19-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If you didn't watch the Detroit Lions-Chicago Bears game, you didn't miss much.... except perhaps the worst call of the NFL Season, if not history.

Okay, maybe that's a bit exaggerated. But it's definitely a highly questionable call that will be talked about for months and months. Especially if the Lions go on to have another crappy season with only a win a two.

Because the thing is, in my mind, and in a lot of minds (and not just Detroit fans), the Lions won that opening game. Which would put them in first place for the first time since 2007. Granted they would be tied for first with like 16 other teams but whatever. And they would have won the game in the final seconds of a game with a backup, relatively unknown QB at the helm--who managed to move the ball all the way down the field and get the ball in the endzone in less than a minute.

But in the official books and records, they did not win the game.

Even though the receiver Calvin Johnson did catch the ball in the endzone, with two hands, with full possession of the ball, and with the ball not slipping out when his entire body hit the grass.

But as he got up, CJ left the ball on the ground.

So it wasn't a touchdown. It was ruled incomplete because he didn't complete the full "process of the pass," according to the announcers on NFL Red Zone anyway.

So what exactly is this mystical "process of the pass" that so few of us have ever heard of that just magically appeared at the end of this game? Or as Chris Chase said on Yahoo Sports, "When is a catch not a catch? When it happens in the NFL, apparently."

Even Stiletto Sports Senior Correspondent Erik Sweetland, who is one of the biggest football fanatics I know, had only ever heard this call (or rule or whatever the NFL is coining this term) once. When the same situation happened to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year again the Miami Dolphins on November 13, 2009. And the Bucs lost that game as well.

I was told you can find this football rule in: Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3.


Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 1 of the NFL Rule Book (page 51) states that “if a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact with 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.” Blogs NFl.Com

That doesn't say, "said player must get up with the ball to maintain the process of the pass."

A forward pass is complete when a receiver clearly possesses the pass and touches the ground with both feet inbounds while in possession of the ball. If a receiver would have landed inbounds with both feet but is carried or pushed out of bounds while maintaining possession of the ball, pass is complete at the out-of-bounds spot. -Rules Digest NFL.Com

Neither does that.

I Googled (and even Binged) this rule for over 30 minutes with every search term I could think of: "process of the pass, pass completion rules, NFL rules, Possession of the ball, touchdown completion rules, what makes a pass complete....etc."

And nothing. Never saw any rules about a player having to stand up with the ball to make the pass complete in a touchdown situation. We know it must exist since it was called once before in that Tampa Bay game and it's not like the league overturned the call after the game. But maybe they need to do a 2010 Edition of the Most Boring and Ridiculous Book of Crap NFL Rulebook that clearly outlines what they would like to see the players do in the end zone.

Because right now it kinda seems like the NFL would have rather Calvin Johnson, get up with the ball in hand and do an dance in the end zone, spiking the ball into the fans and get called for excessive celebration than just calming get up and leave the ball on the ground.....

How I love stupid NFL rules.