Dez Bryant made an amazing play to highpoint this ball from over Sam Shields' head, making what looked like an incredible catch to keep a Cowboys' drive alive:
But when Bryant hit the ground, the ball popped loose:
When the ground causes a receiver to lose possession before he's made a "football move," by rule, he hasn't completed the process of the catch. Thus, it's an incompletion. There was a point in time when he had control, but, sadly, that doesn't matter. We agree it's kinda baffling that you can hold a ball for so long and it's not a catch, but this was the correct application of a questionable rule.
Refereeing analysts were in agreement the right call was eventually made:
Incomplete pass lost control as he hit ground. Should be reversed— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) January 11, 2015
While the reversal in replay was correct, the clock should have been reset to 4:32. 26 seconds lost.— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) January 11, 2015
Bryant going to the ground. By rule he must hold onto it throughout entire process of contacting the ground. He didn't so it is incomplete.— Dean Blandino (@DeanBlandino) January 11, 2015
This is the Calvin Johnson Rule, and yes, head ref Gene Steratore was in charge for that game too.
Bryant was understandably unhappy:
The play was on fourth down, so this gave the Packers the ball. They wouldn't give it back to the Cowboys and held on for the win. The challenge was the first correct challenge of the year for Packers' head coach Mike McCarthy.
Packers defeat Cowboys
A week after the Lions were haunted by a controversial refereeing decision in a game with the Cowboys, they couldn't help but note the irony of the infamous Johnson ruling hurting the Cowboys: