NFL senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino addressed the touchdown by Packers receiver Jordy Nelson in his weekly Official Review segment on NFL Network. In the Sunday night game, Nelson caught a 13-yard pass in the end zone from quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Redskins defensive back Josh Norman immediately knocked the ball out of Nelson’s grasp.
Because of the complication of replay’s involvement, this should not be seen as a precedent of a completed catch, but rather the self-imposed limitations of replay.
The pass was ruled a touchdown on the field by back judge Keith Ferguson and went to replay where the call was upheld. However, Blandino stated
On the field when it’s close, we want the official to rule this incomplete. If there is any question in his or her mind rule it incomplete…Had it been ruled incomplete on the field, we would have stayed with that as well.
Buried in that explanation is that Blandino feels this was not a catch, but it fell into replay’s grey area of issuing a reversal.
In making a decision, an official must determine if the receiver had two feet down, control of the ball, and time to become a runner. At the officiating clinic in July, Blandino said these “bang-bang” type plays would be ruled incomplete. A bang-bang play is any play that happens so quickly that the time element of the catch rule cannot be determined. The time element has always been in the rule, but different verbiage has evolved over time.
There is clearly enough evidence present in Nelson’s catch to make a definitive ruling for catch/no catch, however the replay review went with “stands.” Because of the time element, there should be a more definitive answer seen in the replay for a reversed/confirmed decision. Due to the time element of the rule, it is clear Nelson secured it long enough to become a runner. Therefore, it should’ve been ruled incomplete after the review.
Although the appropriate call would have been a reversal, the guideline to make obvious corrections in replay, and not reofficiate the play. Since there is a short time element in the catch process, replay did not rule either way on the call, even though the video presented clear evidence to make a confirmed/reversed decision.
The Official Review segment, which also included spotting controversies from the Monday night game, is below.
— NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) November 23, 2016