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Jordy Nelson scored on a catch that was not a catch


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.

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3 thoughts on “Jordy Nelson scored on a catch that was not a catch

  1. With all due respect, this makes no sense. It should have been ruled no catch, but since it was ruled incorrectly on the field as a catch, replay went with stands? I thought the point of replay was to correct the obvious mistake on the field?

  2. I feel like I should know this by now, but, had the ball not been knocked loose, when is a play like this whistled dead as a successful touchdown? The rules say that a touchdown is scored when, among other things, the ball is…behind the plane of the opponents’ goal line…and is in possession of a runner who has advanced from the field of play into the end zone. The rules further state that the ball is automatically dead when it is in legal possession of a player…behind the opponent’s goal line.

    You say, “Due to the time element of the rule, it is clear Nelson secured it long enough to become a runner.” If he was in the end zone and became a runner, completing the act of catching and possessing the ball, the play should be a touchdown.

    What piece am I missing?

  3. Karen: on a catch, the ‘process’ must be completed before it can be ruled a TD. Its Questionable here but it was reviewed and stood. Also officials like to have the receiver ‘show me the ball’ at the end of the play which proves he had possession and control of the pass. Sometimes a defender will make a play on the ball, knocking it out of the receivers hands well after the play. This one is very close and could’ve gone either way. Surprised replay didn’t overturn it. hope this helps.

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