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League backs up Triplette review of TD



Week 3: Giants at Eagles

The description of the “process of the catch” has been fixed in the rulebook, but that does not mean that the ruling has become any easier for spectators. The basic premise remains unchanged: catch the ball and do something after that point, such as run with the ball, change direction, or stretch the ball over the goal line. This used to be considered a “football move” in the rulebook, but the league moved away from that description after some high profile misinterpretations. Now, we are moving back towards that, but the catch rulings should come closer to what fans expect to be called consistently.

Giants receiver Victor Cruz had a leaping touchdown catch against the Eagles when he lost the ball in the end zone. It was ruled a touchdown and automatically subjected to a replay review. Jeff Triplette announced the verdict:

After reviewing the play, the ruling on the field is confirmed. The receiver caught the ball, stuck it over the goal line – the plane – before he lost possession. It is a touchdown.

The NFL released a statement that confirms the call was correct:

Cruz had firm grip and control of the ball, touched both feet to the ground, and fulfilled the time requirement to complete the catch.

At the point that Cruz completed the catch, he became a runner (a runner is an offensive player who is in possession of a live ball).

When Cruz, acting as a runner, extended the ball over the goal line, it was a touchdown at the instant the ball penetrated the plane of the goal line.  … When Cruz lost control of the ball, he was no longer attempting to catch a pass. He had already completed the catch and was a runner attempting to score a touchdown by extending the ball across the goal line.

If the same situation occurred in the middle of the field, and a receiver who had become a runner lost possession of the ball as he reached forward for a first down, it would be a fumble.

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)