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Head of NFL officiating says Dez Bryant catch correctly overturned

Dean Blandino stands by the referee's decision to overturn Dez Bryant's catch.

The biggest storyline coming out of the playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers Sunday was the decision by referee Gene Steratore to overturn a 31-yard reception by Dez Bryant. Bryant made a leaping grab over Packers cornerback Sam Shields on a key fourth down late in the game, but when he fell forward the ball popped up after contact with the ground. According to NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino, the referee correctly applied the rules by overturning the catch.

The rule in question is NFL Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 1, which stats that a player going to the ground while catching a pass must "maintain control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground." Because Bryant allowed the ball to move after contacting the ground, Steratore ruled that the pass had fallen incomplete.

Blandino agrees with the decision, as he explained to Pro Football Talk:

"Is Bryant going to the ground to make the catch?" Blandino said on PFT Live. "It's clear. He's stumbling... Then we have to look to see, does the ball touch the ground? Which it clearly did, and it came loose after it touched the ground... The last part which was discussed is did he make a football move? ... Looking at it, he didn't."

The question of whether Bryant made a "football move" has been heavily dissected. Blandino stands by his referee's decision:

"There's judgment involved in all of these plays," Blandino said. "We felt it was indisputable that's not what Bryant did. He was just trying to gain control of it."

Blandino did admit one mistake. The referees should have added time back on the clock after reversing the play:

"There should have been time back on the clock because by rule when the pass is incomplete it stops the clock and some time did go off the clock before coach McCarthy challenged it."

Still, the most important part of the review -- whether Bryant actually caught the pass -- was handled in accordance with the rulebook.