We had the first full day of NFL football on Sunday, and there was a rule that came up that needs to be changed, fixed, and consistently applied. That rule is the “Calvin Johnson” rule. The rule requiring a receiver to maintain possession of the ball through the ground on a touchdown catch occurred at least twice Sunday, but only once was it recognized.
Calvin Johnson himself fell victim to the rule yet again, but Victor Cruz should have been, based on the letter of the law. I will go ahead and address the homerism issue that may come up here since the Cruz touchdown was against the Dallas Cowboys. I believe the rule should be demolished, I believe the Cruz touchdown should be a touchdown, and so should the Calvin Johnson play, even if it would likely lead to me losing in my main fantasy league. That is what should happen, but it is not the rule, and by rule, both plays should have been ruled incomplete, and much like the tuck rule, someday it will be removed, but until it is, it must be enforced, and enforced with consistency, which isn’t happening.
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 want to point out that the rule does state, “with or without contact by an opponent”. Why point this out? Because many analysts showing the highlight have said something to the effect of “Calvin should know better, especially since he wasn’t touched”. Well that doesn’t matter, but you have to believe that is the reason Victor Cruz’ touchdown wasn’t even reviewed. In the Cruz play, he only got one foot on the ground before taking a hit and lunging into the end zone. He reached the ball out, it hit the ground, popped out of his hand, and rolled away. Referees then signaled touch down, play not even reviewed.
Calvin Johnson on the other hand, catches the ball with two feet on the ground, dives forward with full control of the ball, when he hits the ground in the end zone, the ball jars loose, but remains in his arms, and he comes up ball in hand. This play is reviewed and overturned.
Again, I think this rule is poorly written and should be changed, but while it is in place, why can’t there be consistency? Why did nobody even bother pointing out this rule, especially since it was brought up in a game earlier in the day? What is the difference between the two plays? Why don’t the referees remain consistent on a rule that is pretty clear cut? No, seriously, why, I really want to know.