Another Detroit Lions player seemingly added himself to the controversy surrounding the NFL’s definition of a completed catch. On third-and-goal from the Bears 2, Golden Tate hauled in a pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford, which would’ve put the Lions ahead 21-13 at halftime, but the end of the play astonished the Ford Field crowd.
As he started to cross the goal line, the ball was stripped by cornerback Kyle Fuller, and Bears linebacker Jonathan Anderson caught it, to give his team the ball. Referees ruled it an interception and a touchback, but the play was challenged by the Lions. Even Fox Sports rules analyst Mike Pereira believed that the call would not be a touchdown. But that’s not what the officials declared after returning to the field.
Referee Walt Coleman gave a brief explanation after the game.
“Two feet down, possession of the ball, takes it one more step, and then the ball was stripped out,”Coleman said . “Well, in the end zone, once you have the completed catch, it’s a touchdown.”
Tate’s teammate Calvin Johnson was involved in a similar play a few years ago, when he fell into the end zone, after making the catch. The same situation befell Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant in last year’s playoffs. It seems that a new rule needs to be added to the already complicated rule for one of the simplest moments in football: Never leave your feet or dive for a pass, it will only count on the highlight reels.
Dean Blandino, the vice president of officiating reemphasized that Tate’s catch was different from Bryant’s and Johnson’s.
“This is not a receiver who’s going to the ground,” Blandino said. “The issue here is ‘Did he become a runner before the ball came loose? Did he have control, both feet down and time enough to become a runner after the second foot is down?”Blandino
It’d be interesting to see Blandino’s ruling on a catch made by Buccaneers receiver Vincent Jackson in 2012. What would be his explanation? Two feet on the ground, even though he landed on his stomach? Time enough to be a runner after his second foot’s down? Who knows what’ll be.
At least the continuation rule is not part of college football. Now we have catches like this to enjoy on Saturdays.