When is a ‘catch’ a catch?

Like many of you, I’m sure your exposure of this week’s media attention to the Denver Broncos has been much more about the demise of Peyton Manning (including this little gem) than the #3 Ranked team in the driver’s seat of their division.

Missing in much of the national attention to the NFL and in particular the Denver Broncos narrative, is a lack of discussion on what I’ve found to become a very frustrating and quite literally, ‘game changing’.

In the 4th Quarter with less than 20 seconds to go, Peyton threw a 40 yard dime to Emanuel Sanders, who made an amazing, game-clinching, one-handed grab. Now the play is probably better remembered for what unfolded after, as Emanuel got up, having believed he was not ruled down by contact, and gingerly jogged to the endzone, where he fell to the ground in pain, nursing his shoulder as time drew to expiration.    ESCatch

They play was reviewed and the officiating crew reversed the decision, calling the play an incomplete pass as the ball appeared to move after Emanuel fell to the ground. After countless rewinds and replays, to me, this appeared to be a worst case scenario, completed pass and step out of bounds on the 18 yard line. A field goal, one less Peyton Manning interception and the narrative for this win has less doom and gloom and more bye-week-lets-get-healthy celebration.

This wasn’t the case though. Nor was this the only instance of questionable interpretation of the ‘catch’ rule this week or this season.

All of this comes on the heals of what probably was the worst case ‘catch’ scenario that unfolded in Green Bay this past January and the subsequent off-season rule change that ‘cleared things up’. Per Mike Pereira:

A player is considered to be going to the ground if he does not remain upright long enough to demonstrate that he is clearly a runner. 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 until after his initial contact with 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. 

So, the ground can’t cause a fumble but it can cause an incomplete pass and the complete rewriting of the NFL history books, including the subsequent Manning is Dead media frenzy.


I want to be clear here, I don’t blame the officials here nor do I want to even go down the officiating critique road, they have a thankless job as it is. I’m also not saying this offense doesn’t deserve its fair share of criticism. I see this having to do more with forcing refs into a rule interpretation and less to do with judging if a catch was simply a catch.

Sometimes, a ‘catch’ is simply a catch. Why complicate things more than they need to be?

Everyone, I’m a long time IAOFM follower and this is my first attempt at tackling some hopefully insightful content contribution here with the In-ThinAir community. I grew up in Denver, I am a life time Broncos fan and had a very short and mediocre D1AA college football career. I love the content here and have no issue with criticism and feedback (I live in New York now and I’m used to it), so please keep the discussion going and GO BRONCOS.

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Social worker by day and candle maker by night, I'm a Denver native and an Upstate New York transport, where I had an illustrious one year D1AA college football career. A Broncos fan since spending childhood days at training camp in Greeley, my Broncos Country Flag flies high no matter where I live. Sorry to disappoint Mile HIGH enthusiasts, but Kush-Lash is only Jerry McGuire reference.