LSU tight end Thaddeus Moss produced one of the year's best plays with a tiptoe 16-yard catch to set up a touchdown that helped the No. 2 Tigers take a 26-13 halftime lead over No. 3 Alabama on Saturday in Tuscaloosa:
Moss stepped out of bounds before reestablishing himself in bounds and making the catch.
NCAA rules state that a player who went out of bounds can not be the first person to touch a legal forward pass in bounds (therefore presumably making the Moss reception a penalty for illegal touching), but SEC Officiating provided reasoning and an exception for why the catch was good:
By rule, the officials made the correct call if they believed Moss was forced out. The question then is whether Alabama defensive back Trevon Diggs forced Moss out of bounds, and that's up for debate.
However, Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports reported that judging a force-out isn't a reviewable play. He also provided more context for the officials' post-play review:
Dennis Dodd @dennisdoddcbs
Interp on Moss catch at end of 1st half: Moss was ruled to have been forced OB by Trevone Diggs. That isn't a reviewable play. What was being reviewed was whether Moss was inbounds when he caught ball. BC of the Diggs force out, Moss could be the first player to touch the ball.
If officials had initially ruled Moss wasn't forced out and called a penalty for illegal touching, then LSU would have faced a 2nd-and-15 from the Alabama 22.
Instead, LSU punched it in after three plays following a 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
Regardless of whether Moss was actually forced out, the play stood, and Jeff Nowak of NOLA.com provided a still image of the razor-thin margin between Moss' feet and the boundary:
Jeff Nowak @Jeff_Nowak
That insane catch by Thaddeus Moss COUNTS. Incredible. He stepped out of bounds -- will have to look up the official rule, but he DID re-establish both feet in bounds before the catch. It was a long review as they looked at that. Randy Moss is smiling somewhere right now. https://t.co/2aHq8Gxois
Thaddeus Moss entered Saturday having caught 21 passes for 246 yards and one touchdown. The 6'3", 249-pound junior is fourth on the team in receiving yards.
Moss is the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss, who caught 156 touchdown passes over a 15-year career from 1998 to 2012.