Amidst all of the confusion and debate over what is and isn’t a catch, the NFL will finally be changing the catch rule, hopefully simplifying something that they consciously decided to complicate for no good reason.
The NFL owners unanimously agreed to get this stupidity fixed, and spare us all endless reviews and the occasional Cris Collinsworth meltdown.
As explained by head of officiating Al Riveron, these are the “three components of a catch” that will be emphasized moving forward:
2.) Two feet down (or another body part)
3.) Football move (examples: Reaching/extending for the line-to-gain, a 3rd step, bringing the ball in)
In the NFL’s video, they cited the infamous “Dez caught it” overturn in the Dallas Cowboys’ playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers back in 2015. Bryant took three steps, had control, but didn’t “survive the ground” as the ball popped free when his left arm came down. That would now be a catch under the new rules, so the “surviving the ground” garbage is seemingly out of here.
Secondly, Pittsburgh Steelers TE Jesse James’ game-winning touchdown against the New England Patriots was controversially overturned, as the ball hit the ground and came loose after reaching for the goal-line. This was quite possibly the biggest play of the entire season, as the Steelers would lose the game (through Ben Roethlisberger’s remarkable stupidity) and lose home field advantage to New England. Under the new rules, once he reaches for the end zone and the ball crosses the plane, it’s a touchdown.
Lastly, remember an “incomplete pass” to Andre Ellington in the Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks game from last November? Ellington took three steps, fell to the ground without being touched, lost the ball, and Kam Chancellor recovered the ball and ran it back. This would now be a fumble, as it should’ve been last year under my clearly superior “common sense” rules, but now the NFL has actually said this is considered completing the process of a catch and then a loss of possession.
I’m sure there will still be controversies under the new version of the catch rule, just ideally not as many as we’ve seen over the past several years.