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Catch and stretch stretches catch call



Week 2: Panthers at Falcons

I was convinced that the allusions to the Raiders touchdown reversal in the Week 1 Monday Night Football game were over. The fine folks over at Pro Football Talk have pointed us to another instance of a catch that is a borderline call. This one is harder to defend than the Texans touchdown upheld by replay.

On an 11-yard touchdown reception, Panthers receiver Dante Rosario lost control of the ball while scoring a touchdown (video). In light of the well-covered reversal last week, and the description given by the referee in that game, it would appear on first inspection that the Panthers touchdown would be overturned on replay.

The call on the replay review was that Rosario caught the ball in the field of play, got two feet down, then lunged for the end zone. If a receiver is not going to the ground, all that is required is two feet and possession of the ball for a perceivable amount of time (in other words, a freeze frame on replay is not enough to establish possession). Mike Pereira explained this to us in the preseason:

[If] contact comes almost simultaneously with the second foot hitting the ground … when we’re under the hood looking at these, we do run them in real time [for an] element of time that … is recognizable that he has control of the ball.

The call on the field by Don Carey indicated that the receiver completed the process of the catch in the field of play, and was not going to the ground until after the establishment of a catch. But, Carey said Rosario did this by performing “a second act” by reaching the ball over the plane of the goal line. This description comes dangerously close to reestablishing the “football move” verbiage that was abandoned in the definition of a catch. However, the spirit of the football-move guideline still exists if a player catches the ball, gets two feet down, and changes direction. Now, had the receiver caught the ball in stride, running parallel to the sideline instead of the goal line, this could have been ruled incomplete.

That said, I am not entirely sure that the receiver isn’t contacted before establishing the second foot for a recognizable element of time. This would mean, under such a opinion, that  the process of the catch would not be concluded until the player reaches the ground. In my judgment, I would rule incomplete, but I am not calling it a wrong call.

Back judge Terrence Miles and side judge Greg Meyer were covering the play.