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If Refs Followed Rules, Lions Would Have Won

The rule states:... If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.

I know I have written an article on this once. But it has been brought to my attention that this is the real rule. SO here is the reasoning it was a real Touchdown.

The key words here are .... he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground.

The rule does not state what constitutes hitting the ground. For that we need to turn to another rule.

A forward pass is complete (by the offense) or intercepted (by the defense) if a player, who is inbounds: (a) secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground; and (b) touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands.

According to this rule, landing with two feet in bounds constitutes hitting the ground. Johnson caught the ball in the air, landed and got both feet down in bounds while having a firm controlled grip of the ball. By the definitions of the written rules, it was a catch. If that was not good enough, when Johnson landed on his but, that would fit in the above rule part (b) stating "any part of his body other than his hands." Johnson still had clean possession of the ball, so for a second time it should have been a catch.

Read the above rules (in italics). Nowhere in either rule does it state that a player must get up with the ball in his hands. Nowhere does it say he needs to come to a halt with the ball in his hands. Nowhere does it state anything about continuing through the process. By the letter of the rule, as it is written, Johnson's catch was indeed a catch and a touchdown.

Yet just to satisfy those who believe there really is some continuing the process part that states he has to hold onto the ball until he finishes the play.

When a player catches the ball then runs into the end-zone, all he has to do is break the plain of the goal line for it to be a TD. He does not have to wait for the ref to blow a whistle or raise his hands signaling a touchdown. We see it all the time when players run into the end-zone and drop the ball before any whistle or signal is given. According to the rules, once that ball passes the goal line, it is a TD and the play is dead. If a player dives from the 2 yard line and lands out of bounds, but while in the air the ball hits the pylon, it is considered a touchdown. There is no fumbling the ball in the end-zone.

According to NFL rules, getting two feet down constitutes being on the ground. Once the TD is made, the play is dead. Johnson had two feet down with a firm hold of the ball. He then fell to his butt with clean possession. What part of this does not constitute "hitting the ground"? Once he hit the ground with a firm hold of the ball, it should have been a touchdown and the play dead. Him letting go of the ball should never have mattered.

Yet the NFL refs, and spokesmen are saying that we do not understand the rule and that those who do not know the rule don't understand the definition. Excuse me? I am sorry, but that would not hold up in the court of law. You don't write rules and expect people to follow what you mean when the rule does not state it. People are to follow what the law says. I can read those rules just fine and nowhere does it say that Johnson's catch was incomplete. The only people saying it was an incompletion are the officials who are adding meaning to the rule that is not stated in the wording.

I would love to see one of two things out of the Lions in the next game.

1) After scoring a TD, the players should run to the sideline and place the ball in a baby cradle they have waiting and give it to the refs.

2) After scoring a TD, they should run out a contract to the refs for the refs to sign, stating that it is a TD.

Yes I understand that they would be fined, but if I was coach, I would do it anyway. I would even pay the fines for the players. I would make sure the NFL world knew exactly where I stood with their ridiculous way of interpreting a rule the way they want to rather than how it is written.

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