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Miami’s tip-toe touchdown: Should it have been overturned?

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Week 16: Lions at Dolphins

With under two minutes left in the second quarter of the Lions—Dolphins game, Chad Henne completed a touchdown pass to receiver Davone Bess (video). The replay assistant called for a review, and referee Tony Corrente upheld the ruling on the field of a touchdown. However, while Bess did get both feet down in bounds with possession with the ball across the goal line, several replay angles show Bess’ left foot out of bounds just before he leaps to make the catch.

A tipped ball complicates this play. Any player who steps out of bounds cannot be the first to touch the ball. However, the ball was tipped by Lions defensive back Tye Hill, so if Bess’ foot returned to the field of play before the tip, the catch would’ve been legal. But replays seem to show that Bess’ foot landed out of bounds just after the tip, then was in the air, and thus not yet re-established in the field of play (if this even matters), as he caught the ball.

So the question is, does the defender tipping the pass negate the need for Bess to get his foot back in bounds before touching the ball? Or should this TD catch have been overturned?

Luckily for the Lions, it wound up not costing them the game.

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