The referee who made the decision to overturn what appeared to be a spectacular Dez Bryant reception gave his explanation why the call was overturned. According to Gene Steratore, the head referee of Sunday's game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, Bryant was unable to make an "act common to the game" after falling to the ground. As soon as the ball touched the ground, the pass was incomplete, although the ball was in Bryant's hand.
According to Steratore, it did not matter that Bryant's elbow hit the ground before the ball did. "When you're still going through the process of the catch, elbow or knees are irrelevant," Steratore said. "He must complete that entire process with the football, maintain possession throughout."
The play occurred during what would have been a crucial fourth down conversion. The Cowboys trailed the Packers 26-21 with a little more than four minutes remaining in the game when the call was made. The Cowboys turned the ball over on downs, and the Packers were able to grind out the rest of the game clock for the win.
You can read Steratore's full explanation below:
Although the receiver possessing the football, he must maintain possession of that football throughout the entire process of the catch. In our judgment, he maintained possession but continued to fall and never had another act common to the game. We deemed that by our judgment to be the full process of the catch, and at the time he lands and the ball hits the ground, it comes loose as it hits the ground, which would make that incomplete; although he repossesses it, it does contact the ground when he reaches so the repossession is irrelevant because it was ruled an incomplete pass when we had the ball hit the ground.
Here's the referee's explanation of the Dez Bryant catch that was called back: pic.twitter.com/yOZXHQbPoj— Rick Maese (@RickMaese) January 11, 2015