NFL Rewrites Rule That Nullified Dez Bryant Catch vs. Packers

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2015

USA Today

The Dallas Cowboys' 26-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs on Jan. 11 was shrouded in controversy after wide receiver Dez Bryant appeared to make a game-saving grab that could have propelled the Cowboys to the NFC Championship Game. 

However, the NFL rule regarding the status of a catch prevented the play from being upheld, since Bryant was deemed not to have made what the league referred to as a "football move." 

As a result, the NFL has decided to rewrite the rule while maintaining the tenets of the original, according to Fox Sports analyst and former NFL Vice President of Officiating Mike Pereira on Twitter

A player is considered to be going to the ground if he does not remain upright long enough to demonstrate that he is clearly a runner. 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 until after his initial contact with 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. 

As Pereira noted, the term "football move" has now been removed entirely from the list of qualifications necessary for the official to rule a catch complete.

"C'mon man, I think it was a catch," Bryant told reporters following the loss, per CBSSports.com's Ryan Wilson. "They took it away. ... I wasn't off balance. I was trying to stretch for it and get in the end zone."

Back in March, Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino discussed how the old rule would compare to the new one, which emphasizes that a player is "clearly a runner." 

"For years the requirement for a catch is control, both feet and after that the receiver had to have the ball long enough to perform a [football] act," Blandino said, per CBSSports.com's Will Brinson. "It was that act common to the game, football move, that created some confusion."

ESPN's Trey Wingo remained one of the many detractors of the rule despite the change: 

While some of the gray area has been eliminated entering the 2015 season, Bryant's infamous play surely won't be the last time the rule is thrust into the spotlight.  

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