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Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions Robbed of Game-Winning Touchdown vs. Chicago Bears

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Nick CaronAnalyst INovember 8, 2016

... And so the bad calls begin.

The topic of the day is certainly the non-touchdown call of Calvin Johnson's touchdown reception with 24 seconds left.

Down by a 19-14 score with quarterback Matt Stafford knocked out of the game, it was backup Shaun Hill who stepped in and drove the Lions down the field to and gave his team a chance to win.

Hill threw a pass into the end zone, where Calvin Johnson made an amazing play on the ball, positioning his body and leaping up over the defender to make an incredible catch for the would-be go-ahead touchdown.

But wait—with under two minutes left on the clock, the play went under review by the officials.

After possessing the ball in his hands, landing both feet on the ground, holding it to the ground where both his knee and backside hit the ground in bounds, Johnson then palmed the ball to the turf, where he proceeded to "lose possession."

The call was overturned, and the touchdown was taken away.

NFL rules state the following:

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.

The rules here are far too vague about this situation.

How long, exactly, must a player possess the ball after he hits the ground? If Johnson catches the ball, possesses it to the ground, and then tosses it in the air from his back as part of a celebration—is that not a catch?

Not only that, but the play should have been over numerous times. Johnson caught the ball, touched two feet down—play over. As he fell, his knee touches the ground in bounds—play over. As he fell further, his backside hit the ground, again in bounds—play over!

Johnson had possession and should have been ruled down well before the ball hit the ground.

The NFL is setting a dangerous precedent with this ruling. If a receiver is not down when he catches the ball and hits two feet down in the end zone, then the door is opened for defenders to lay late hits on receivers in an attempt to knock the receiver down and get them to drop the ball.

It's too late to overturn this terrible call and give the Lions the win they deserve, but this rule needs to be immediately re-evaluated and changed.

Lions fans, I feel your pain. Bears fans, enjoy your "win."


Video of the call in question:

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