The end of the wild card matchup between the Steelers and Bengals was so crazy and featured a crucial late-game fumble. Plus, two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against Cincinnati allowed the Steelers to escape with a win. So, Martavis Bryant’s ridiculous touchdown catch hasn’t quite been getting the attention it deserves as one of the most athletic grabs you’ll ever see.
Bryant was able to somehow keep his feet in and do a somersault to ensure the ball didn’t touch the ground. His efforts paid off, as the call of a touchdown was confirmed after replay. But according to NFL’s V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino, the play should have been called incomplete:
“I don’t think this is a catch. If I just had a blank slate and I could say, ‘Do you think it’s a catch or not a catch’?, I would said no catch.'”
Blandino also explained why it should have been incomplete — since it was ruled a touchdown by the officials on the field. Yet there had to be clear and convincing evidence on the replay to overturn the call:
“Is there indisputable evidence to overturn the ruling on the field of a catch? It was ruled a catch on the field, so the basic premise of replay since its inception is the call on the field is presumed correct unless we have indisputable visual evidence that it is incorrect, then we can make a change. You watch the play live, and the question is going to be control. Initial control. Bryant is going to pin the ball against his leg . . . and then as he rolls over he’s going to maintain that control. And again the issue, did he have control with the right foot down? There is some movement, Slight movement does not necessarily mean loss or lack of control. He pins the ball against his leg there. Is the foot still down as he starts to go to the ground? . . . Again, not indisputable.”
It’s little solace to Bengals’ fans now that Blandino thinks he would have ruled it incomplete on the field, but it also sounds like he wouldn’t have overturned a touchdown ruling if he were the one looking at the review.
The fact that there is even this much of a debate, even among different officials, is just more proof that the NFL needs to figure out a way to make the “what is a catch” rule simpler in the offseason. Hopefully, the next time someone makes a somersault, toe-tapping touchdown grab, we can all just marvel at the athletic achievement and not spend time arguing over the overly complicated NFL rulebook.
(Via Pro Football Talk)