In a rule that I’ll refer to as “The Louis Murphy Rule” (explain in a second) the Detroit Lions were robbed of their win today against the Chicago Bears. Lions’ WR Calvin Johnson leapt into the air, caught the ball, came down with both feet; fell onto his ass with his left hand hitting the ground inbounds, the ball secured firmly in his right hand. When Johnson brought the ball down in his attempt to hop back to his feet to celebrate, he let it go, jumped up, and got ready to dance… the referees blew the play dead, and ruled no-touchdown.
Now for those of you unfamiliar with Louis Murphy and my reference, he’s a WR for the Oakland Raiders. Last season on Monday Night Football against the San Diego Chargers, Murphy caught a pass in the endzone, came down on his ass, elbow hitting the ground, ball clinched in his chest with a defender on top of him. When Murphy rolled over to stand up, he laid the ball on the ground when he jumped up to celebrate; his touchdown was voided.
The referee’s cite a rule roughly stating that the ball must be secure all the way through the catch in the act of falling, even in the endzone. In both cases I find it hard to defend, because both men came down inbounds with the ball controlled when they hit the floor, even with defenders draped over them. In the field of play, this would be ruled a tackle and catch… in the endzone, they’ve robbed two players of their game-winning touchdowns.
The rule has been enforced because the referee’s do not want to admit mistake in what they ruined for Oakland last season. Over the offseason, many referees didn’t even know how to make judgment on these calls, yet the competition committee voted to keep the rule. There is too much that goes back and forth on this rule in comparison to others about controlling the ball in the field of play and in the endzone. It’s time the NFL abandon’s this judgment. If a player hits the ground with the ball secured… it needs to be ruled a catch. A rollover or hop back up is no longer making a football move, especially in the endzone with a defender laying on top of you anyways. If you’re going to negate the touchdown, the ball needs to still be alive and there needs to be a ruling of a fumble… that isn’t a possible outcome… neither is denying the touchdown! FIX THE RULE, NFL!