Pro football needs to go back under the hood.
Looking again and again and again at the Hail Mary on Monday night between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, the possession rule must get reviewed.
Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 5 states:
Simultaneous Catch. If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control. If the ball is muffed after simultaneous touching by two such players, all the players of the passing team become eligible to catch the loose ball.
Note: Video courtesy of NFL.com.
We can easily see Green Bay's M.D. Jennings with possession of the ball and clutching it against his chest inside of both arms.
Plus, he's almost entirely on top of Seahawks' receiver Golden Tate who is only reaching in for the ball. This is not a simultaneous catch.
That said, since this play was ruled as such, the simultaneous catch rule must then be changed to avoid any sort of confusion. One way would be to make the play always reviewable, which would ultimately rid the rule of automatically giving possession to the passing team.
At this stage in pro football, reviewing is about the only logical solution. Then again, it's certainly always better to get the call correct. And since getting the correct call is the why we have instant replay, why not use it?
This would definitely slow down the pace of the game, but at least it provides a bit more clarity to the decision.
Is it worth not reviewing and having this level of extreme controversy existing as opposed to a longer game duration? There are pros and cons to everything, so it's a matter of when the possession rule could be deemed reviewable.
If anything, limiting this to scoring plays would be a start. Because although every score is already reviewed, possession still remains a different issue. The score is irrelevant if possession of the ball plays a factor.
How would you change the "simultaneous catch" rule?
Another option would be to make the possession rule eerily similar to that of a jump-ball in the NBA.
So, whichever team loses the coin toss would win the first simultaneous catch of the game. Also, I'm going with the loser of the coin toss here since the winner gets to decide how the game kicks off.
Then, it could just alternate until the contest is finished. In terms of game duration, this is better than a review and it coincides well regarding the "chance" factor that plays a minuscule, yet important role in each game's outcome.
Think about the coin toss alone. Depending on the pace of the game, the coin toss does minutely determine who gets the ball last. At least making the simultaneous catch rule as the coin toss' reciprocal would balance out the "chance" factor altogether.
Nevertheless, something must change within this rule. Otherwise, these kind of situations will continue to be a controversial mark on the NFL.
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