NFL Refs Need To Make The Right Calls (Or At Least The Same Ones)

Michael NevinCorrespondent ISeptember 22, 2009


Being a referee in the NFL is a tough job.  Everyone knows that.  But refs are still highly criticized for any questionable calls they make.  It has come to a point where referees over-analyze tough calls, and the rulebook over-complicates the game.

Before you start to think I am saying we need to give refs a break—know that I am not.  I am questioning three separate calls from the first two weeks of the NFL season.  The calls are separate, but their situations are very similar. Even though the plays are similar, refs have come to different conclusions as to what the right call should be.

I am, of course, talking about three touchdown (non) catches.  The first is Louis Murphy's (Raiders) catch.  The second is Jacoby Jones's (Texans-vs-Titans-highlights" target="_blank" title="Texans">Texans) catch.  And the third is Dante Rosario's (Panthers-vs-Falcons-highlights" target="_blank" title="Panthers">Panthers) catch.

In Week One, the Raiders were playing the Chargers and the game was tied at seven.  As the first half was winding down, Louis Murphy makes a leaping catch in the center of the end zone. 

He secures the ball in his right hand.  Both feet touch the ground, his thigh and butt touch the ground.  Touchdown, right?  But no. 

The ball came loose after his butt hit the ground and the pass was ruled incomplete.  This ended up losing Oakland four points—and could have changed the game.

I'm not about to say that it should have been ruled a touchdown.  Here is what the rules say about a play like this:

Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 1:

"Player Going to the Ground.  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."

So, technically, the call was right and it was not a TD.  So you can't complain about that.  However, the rule is quite stupid in my opinion.

Next, we have the catch by Jacoby Jones of the Texans in Week Two against the Titans.  Jones snags the ball out of the air and is immediately thrown to the ground by the defender.  He has possession, but loses the ball as he does a flip.  The ball then touches the ground and he picks it back up.  This play was ruled a TD. 

Since he was coming to the ground as he caught it, the play should have been ruled incomplete. And seeing how the Texans escaped with a three-point OT win, this was a big mistake.

Last, we have the catch by Dante Rosario of the Panthers as they played the Falcons in Week Two.  Rosario makes a catch as he is getting tackled.  In an effort to score, he turns his body toward the end zone and reaches out.  As he comes in contact with the ground, he loses the ball.  He was going to the ground as he gained possession and the rule clearly states that possession must be retained after hitting the ground (either in the field of play or in the end zone).

I would rule all three of those catches any day.  However, refs must make calls in accordance with the rules.  And they all need to respond to similar situations in the same way.  They can't make the call one week and go against it the next week (and certainly not twice in the same week). 

I'll admit that I am a Raiders fan.  But I'll also admit that the ref made the right call according to the rules.  I may not agree with that particular rule, but the rule exists so it must be followed.  And it can't just be followed part of the time.

Either the NFL owes the Raiders an apology, or they owe the Titans and Falcons an apology.  Either the rule needs to be changed, or the refs need to start using it all the time.


And if you want to take a look at all three plays, check out this video.