Here’s the catch: NFL refs thought they were right all along
Walt Coleman doesn’t see the revamped catch rule as a big change for NFL game officials because the veteran referee believes they’ve already been calling catches the new way.
If anything, Coleman figures there will be fewer reviews of their rulings.
“Most of the calls that seemed to create the most controversy, we ruled them correctly and then they were overturned on replay,” Coleman said on July 13 as officials gathered for their annual preseason meeting in the Dallas area. “From our standpoint, we’re just going to continue to officiate the plays like we have.”
League owners unanimously approved the changes in April — more than three years after Dez Bryant’s infamous catch that wasn’t in Dallas’ playoff loss at Green Bay, and just a few months since Pittsburgh’s Jesse James had a late go-ahead touchdown taken away in a loss to New England that damaged the Steelers’ hopes for the AFC’s top seed.
Essentially, the new rule eliminates the ground as a factor on catches while establishing three main criteria:
—having control of the ball;
—getting two feet down or another body part;
—making a football move, such as taking a third step or extending the ball.
On the plays involving Bryant and James, the ball moved slightly after hitting the ground as they extended it forward, even though they never lost control of it. Both were ruled catches and overturned on review.
“I don’t think it was one thing,” senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron said. “I think we got to a point where fans, the office, coaches, players, wanted to see more exciting plays. How do we make this particular play a catch? How do we take the Dez Bryant play and make it a catch?”
Riveron said the competition committee consulted with coaches, former players, game officials and supervisors, among others, to reach the rule change that was approved.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James (81) loses his grip on the football after crossing the goal line on a pass play against the New England Patriots in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh in December....