UPDATE: With the Packers and Cowboys set to square off again in the 2017 NFL playoffs, we're revisiting Dez Bryant's famous "catch" that started a controversy we still haven't settled two years later.
If there is one thing that happens during the playoffs every year, it is the increased scrutiny on the referees and their screw-ups. Yeah, I know, I know, they are doing the best they can. But when the stakes are so high, we as fans should expect to see a better product not only from the players we cheer for on the field, but also from the officials who work the games. I, like many of you, still can't understand why the NFL breaks up crews in the playoffs, but it hasn't worked out all that great in any year and this year is definitely no different.
Last week the Cowboys benefited from a flag for pass interference that was picked up late in their win against the Lions. Then Sunday, they were victimized by what I believe was a poor interpretation of a rule by the refs near the end of their loss against the Packers.
I'm sure many of you, Lions fans or not, are looking at this as strictly a matter of karma when it comes to the Cowboys. I get it, right, everybody loves to hate the Cowboys. And hey, you win one by a refs call, you lose one by a refs call, sounds pretty fair, right?
That's cool and everything, but I just hope when you get done with the jokes and the giggles, you sit down and seriously consider the fact that in successive weeks, the officials either blew calls or intervened in calls that cost one team the game. Not just a game, but a chance at winning a title.
That's not funny to me. That's actually pretty damn sad.
Let me go ahead and say that obviously I still do not agree with the ruling on the Dez Bryant catch at the end of the Cowboys vs. Packers game. And no, I'm not saying I just disagree with the "bad" rule. I'm saying the rules when applied by the letter of the law still should have deemed that a catch and a fumble recovered by Bryant giving the Cowboys the ball either at the 1-yardline or ruling it a touchdown.
The key here for me is defining whether Bryant had already completed "the process" of making the catch before he hit the ground or was still in "the process" of making the catch as he hit the ground. The reason why this is critical is because if you can prove Bryant had completed the process of making the catch before he ever touched the ground, then the so-called "Calvin Johnson rule" doesn't apply whether the ball was moving or bouncing or whatever the hell else it did.
As I watched the catch on replay, I counted three steps Bryant took after coming down with the ball. If he did indeed take three steps with the ball in his possession, then I need for someone to explain to me how that does not pass the "two steps and a football move" threshold for a completed catch? That third step by itself as a "football move" should have validated that as a catch before he hit the ground, let alone Bryant's attempt to stretch the ball out past the goal line as he fell.
I thought I was crazy for a minute there because I saw the third step almost right away, but nobody else was talking about it on TV nor Twitter. Then they showed Dez on the sideline complaining and you could see him saying that he took three steps. Then later Howie Long asked Mike Pereira about Bryant having taken three steps, to which Pereira replied, and I quote, "The steps don't matter."
Am I supposed to believe if you catch a ball and are off balance for say six or seven steps initially, then fall and the ball comes out after they hit the turf that would be an incomplete pass?
Of course not.
So then logic says that after the third step Bryant was no longer "in the process" of making the catch and instead had already made the catch and was now attempting to advance the football already in his possession into the endzone.
But instead of having a conversation about whether a third step equals the process being completed, all I've heard all weekend is that people need to let it go because "it's a stupid rule, but it's still the rule." What most of those people seem to really want to say is, "nobody can understand the rule anyway so there's no reason to take a closer look."
Sorry, but I can't operate that way. My brain just won't allow me to.
The league is going to have to do something as soon as possible to further clarify what is a catch and what isn't this offseason because we are now past the point of ridiculousness when it comes to the refs making these calls. It is never a good thing when the guys in stripes are having the most influence on who advances and who goes home.