Dez Bryant’s non-catch last Sunday, and the gimp from Pulp Fiction

OK, so… Dez Bryant did not catch that TD pass last Sunday.  There were 6 steps on that play:

  1. The beginning of the catch… So far so good.
  2. Dez makes contact with the ground… Still OK.
  3. The rest of Dez’s body weight lands… Aaaaaand, that ball is on the ground.
  4. OK, so step 3 isn’t “conclusive,” because Dez’s arm is blocking the ball from the camera. But as the “catch” proceeds, the ball then begins to roll over to the other side of Dez’s wrist.
  5. And now the ball is on the ground… again… on the other side of Dez’s wrist, and clearly visible.
  6. And it’s not only on the ground, but it’s now rolling on the ground.

But I don’t want to get into a whole thing there.  It didn’t change the game in the slightest.  The Eagles were still going to lose, whether the officials got that call right or not… which again, they botched.  So Cowboys fans… let’s not be sensitive that I’m saying you got a call.  You most definitely did, but the outcome of the game would have been the same.  Good?  OK, good.

So let’s take this opportunity here at Blogging the bEast to make the game better.  First, let’s review the official’s explanation of the call after he went under the hood:

“After reviewing the play, the ruling on the field stands.”

He didn’t say: “After reviewing the play, the receiver maintained possession throughout, and blah blah blah.”

In other words, what he basically said was: “I don’t think he made the catch, but I don’t have the balls to overturn it because I’m not 10,000,000% sure.”  I’m not sure how much “conclusive evidence” he needed, but the whole “conclusive evidence” thing bothers me in the first place.

The second best podcast on Earth is the Adam Carolla Podcast, and occasionally, he has NFL Network’s Rich Eisen on the show.  A couple months ago, the two discussed the Seahawks-Packers Golden Tate debacle earlier in the season, and Adam and I are on the same page that “the ruling on the field” should not factor in.  It should be more about what is the right effing call.  Anyway, Adam presents his feelings far better than I ever could, in hilarious fashion:

Make it happen, NFL.


  1. Dimitri in NYC says:

    Jimmy, I think you have a wrong understanding of Instant Replay. It’s purpose is not “to get the call right” or do the best you can when you see the replay. It’s purpose, as I understand it, is to reverse calls that a drunk guy at a bar sees as obviously wrong (quoting Peter King from MMQB here’. You may wish for it to be “getting the call right” and may urge NFL to change the meaning or purpose of Instant Replay – but that’s not what it is meant to do today.

  2. jakezze01 says:

    Who cares if the ball was moving when the rest of his body hit the ground? He caught the ball, left elbow landed after he demonstrates possession, the defender is already on his back….therefore, he is DOWN BY CONTACT. Catch, 6 points, Eagles lose either way.
    The ground (besides the small patch contacting Dez’s left elbow) and the fact that the ball eventually may have come in contact with it, absolutely does not matter.

    1. Nope. You don’t know the rules.

      1. Mark Sitko says:

        I agree…this dude is way off…no ball rolling on the ground is ever caught…and Dez never came close to controlling that ball in the first place

  3. Cry Baby ,Cry Baby, Boom,Boom,Boom!

  4. TK19 says:

    here is the NFL rule:

    A catch is made when a player inbounds secures possession of a pass, kick, or fumble in flight (See 8-1-3).
    Note 1: It is a catch if in the process of attempting to catch the ball, a player secures control of the ball prior to the ball touching the ground and that control is maintained after the ball has touched the ground.
    Note 2: In the field of play, if a catch of a forward pass has been completed, and there is contact by a defender causing the ball to come loose before the runner is down by contact, it is a fumble, and the ball remains alive. In the end zone, the same action is a touchdown, since the receiver completed the catch beyond the goal line prior to the loss of possession, and the ball is dead when the catch is completed.

    So it doesn’t matter if the ball hits the ground as long as the WR has control. Dez has the ball cradled in his arm, so one can argue he maintains control despite the ball touching the ground. See rule: control is maintained after the ball TOUCHED the GROUND. Again, we can argue over what constitutes control, but the ball touching the ground is irrelevant in this case.

    Also, the rule can be interpreted as thus, Dez made the catch in the endzone and was ruled down by contact (elbows down and defender in contact in picture 2) and the ground cannot cause a fumble.

    Either way, its a close call… too close in my opinion to call one way or the other. I see good arguments for both sides.

    1. deg0ey says:

      If you look at the position of the ball relative to Bryant’s body in pictures 3, 4 and 5 above, it’s quite clear that he doesn’t have it under control. If he had control of the ball, he would be holding it securely – the ball would not have rolled from one side of his arm to the other if he were in control.

      Once you establish that he didn’t have control until the end, then it definitely matters whether the ball touched the ground. The same images also show the ball in contact with the ground and therefore it isn’t a catch.

      Not trying to wade in for or against either team here, but this one definitely wasn’t a catch. At least it happened on a play that made no real difference to the outcome though.

      1. TK19 says:

        And that’s fine if don’t think he maintained control. I think he did, he had a hand on the tip of the ball and had it tucked to his chest with an arm underneath. Yes the ball moved, but a spherical object is going to roll across your forearm when you land on top of it, physics and all… Either way, its too close to call one way or the other. You can say he doesn’t have control, I say he had control was touched down in the end zone and only had to not lose the ball. The ball can touch the ground as long as Dez continues to control it, which I think he did – to me lose of control would be the ball obviously losing contact with Dez’s body to the point he has to regain control and I don’t think it is OBVIOUS he lost control – Agree to Disagree

    2. He didn’t maintain control throughout the catch.

    3. TK19 says:

      Taken directly from the NFL rulebook on

      Note 3: If a player has control of the ball, a slight movement of the ball will not be considered loss of possession. He must lose control of the ball in order to rule that there has been a loss of possession.

  5. Matt says:

    HAHAAA!! Jimmy still can’t let it go. Absolutely not proof to overturn that call. Step 3, as you stated, clearly does not show the ball on the ground. And you definitely can’t say that the ball is “rolling.” Absolutely no evidence of that whatsoever–that’s merely interpretative speculation on your part. Dez is sliding, and the ball is obviously traveling with him. We have all seen far worse calls go for completed catches this year.

    1. When you watch the tape, it’s rolling from 5 to 6. Clearly.

      1. Mark Sitko says:

        If the ball moves at all the player does not have control…it is not like he moves the ball, the ground is causing it to roll – this is clearly not a catch

        1. TK19 says:

          The NFL disagrees with you

          aken directly from the NFL rulebook on

          Note 3: If a player has control of the ball, a slight movement of the ball will not be considered loss of possession. He must lose control of the ball in order to rule that there has been a loss of possession.

      2. Matt says:

        To say it is CLEARLY rolling is absurd, and you know it. You could *possibly* make a case for the ball moving–just as one could be made for Dez having possession first; and/or a case made for the ball sliding with him as he is sliding from his momentum in the end zone–but to say definitively, without a doubt, that the ball is 100%, clear-as-day, not-a-doubt to anyone in the world who sees that video…is completely ludicrous, and you know it.

        There is not much about that catch–at all–that is clear as day. That’s why it was a judgement call on the official’s part. Even those who say it was a catch–don’t even say it was 100% CLEAR it was a catch. If it were that clear the ball was rolling, there would be no debate or discussion about it whatsoever. If it were as 100% and obvious as the fact that Tony Romo was the QB who threw that football, as it was that the ball was rolling when Dez caught it–there wouldn’t even be as a discussion. Because that’s how clear you are making it sound.

        And if it were that clear, you could have 1,000 officials watch that replay over and over, and all 1,000 of them should say, “Yup. Clear as day. No doubt in my mind. That ball is rolling. Incomplete pass.” And we all know THAT would NOT happen.

        So, please, really, there is no way in hell to claim that ball is CLEARLY rolling.

        1. It’s clearly rolling.

          1. Matt says:

            Wow. Cogent reasoning. Who can argue with that response? At least it wasn’t “MY Dad said it was rolling!” That’s next, lol.

  6. DanJ says:

    As others have said you need a tie breaker / default setting when it in’t clear.
    In cricket the batsman gets the benefit of the doubt when the umpire makes the on pitch call.
    Then if they go to a video replay again there must be conclusive proof that the call was wrong for it to be over turned.
    One of the reasons for this is to help preserve the umpire/ref’s position as the ultimate authority on the field of play. The system was put in to remove the gross error states.

    If you say that a video replay will ignore the on field call then the next step is to review all flags and non flags on every play – because we are saying that the video official’s opinion is going to over rule the other official’s opinions.

    1. I don’t think that’s the logical next step at all. The “unbiased eye” would review the play whenever there’s a coaches’ challenge (of which they have two each) or any game-changing type of play that’s automatically reviewed already (such as a TD or turnover).

  7. youngwiz says:

    not surprising you chose this play, even tho it would have been first and goal so didnt much matter.

    however, you could have chosen the riley cooper “touchdown” that the refs decided was so obvious that it wasn’t even worth their time to review it. whether it was truly a catch or not doesn’t even matter. it’s absurd they didn’t look at it.

    you could have also chosen the 3rd down throw to witten in the redzone that was actually a catch.

    1. Gary says:

      To be fair, the PI call was nonsensical too. But, like Jimmy said, it probably wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the game either.

      1. Matt says:

        PI was legit. It wasn’t at the very end of the play–in the endzone or anything like that. It was leading up to the endzone, where DRC was grabbing Dez trying to slow him up. So, the ball may not have been placed on the goal line–it shouldn’t have been. But around the 10 yd line DRC starts grabbing Dez’s right arm, pulling it behind him; and by the 4-5 yd line you can clearly see Dez’s right arm pulled behind him by DRC.

        1. Mark Sitko says:

          What you just described is not PI – that is defensive holding – 5 yard penalty – ball on the 35 or so?

          1. TK19 says:

            you make a good point… that call could be disputed as well

          2. Matt says:

            Not if he was grabbing and arm-barring him while the ball was in the air.

    2. Turd.Ferguson says:

      Cooper’s catch was reviewed. It was a touchdown. All touchdowns are automatically reviewed. The booth has to give the field officials a go-ahead before they let the team kick the extra point.

  8. ameero2 says:

    rich eisen is hilarious

  9. David_Does_Dallas says:

    Once I saw your argument on BTB I knew I would find an article on it here. BTW, they showed a camera angle behind Dez during the game where you can clearly see that the ball was on the ground. Based on that camera angle alone I was sure it was going to be over-turned. Oh well, i’m not complaining, but I agree it wasn’t a catch.

  10. MannaFromKevin says:

    I get the point you’re making, but there really has to be *something* that acts as a “tie-breaker” so to speak. If it’s one of those crazy plays where it’s among a pile of bodies or it’s just not clear what really happened, you have to be able to say, “Hey, no conclusive evidence to overturn the call on the field.” I get it, it shouldn’t be used as a cop out because the official under the hood doesn’t have the balls to make a bold call, but there’s gotta be a “default” call in those instances. Otherwise you risk screwing things up more, e.g. the official that made the call on the field had the best vantage point and the instant replay cameras didn’t have as good an angle and thus couldn’t see what *really* happened.

    1. MannaFromKevin says:

      And no, I did not watch the AC clip. So I’m lazy.

  11. I don’t have a problem with the way its set up in the rules, but I have a HUGE problem with the way its actually operated on the field.

    The reason you need a “default” ruling is that sometimes there WILL be ambiguity in the video- so how do you solve that? If its not clear, the ruling on the field should stand.

    Which gets me to my next point- I *****HATE***** when the refs say “The ruling on the field is confirmed.” NO IT FUCKING ISN’T YOU DUMB ASSHOLES. It STANDS, because you don’t have enough evidence to overturn.

    Which gets me to my next point- its indisputable visually evidence. There has to be clear evidence that can be shown to say what happened. In the Dez catch- there was, the ball was moving. If the ref would have gave an explanation, then maybe we would know what he thought.

    Which gets me to my final point- the refs should be REQUIRED to give an explanation. “After further review, there was not clear evidence that the ball was moving when he hit the ground.” “After further review, there was clear evidence that the ball was moving, so it was not a catch.”

  12. corn on the Kolb says:

    That is fantastic.

    Purists drive me nuts. I understand that you don’t want to bog the game down with an extradinarily large amount of replays, but who really cares what the call on the field was?

    Everyone cares about what the right call should have been. If in the odd event a camera angle does not offer a definitive view (which rarely happens), perhaps then stay with the eyes who were watching it live.

    But to factor in what someone in your crew saw makes you biased.

    God, I can’t believe anyone is against having full time refs.

    1. SteveH says:

      I can believe why the NFL is against it, and I can believe in why they’d be interested in convincincing johnny Q idiot football fan why they don’t want full time refs.

  13. DerfDiggy says:

    Great call refs! Great call!

  14. Skinsational says:

    This is why this is my favorite football blog.

%d bloggers like this: