clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Odell Beckham had a touchdown. The NFL’s catch rule cost the Giants the game.

The latest and perhaps stupidest NFL catch rule confusion.

With the Giants trailing the Patriots 26-24, Odell Beckham Jr. appeared to catch a go-ahead touchdown. It was ruled a touchdown on the field, but after referees reviewed the play, it was ruled an incomplete pass.

Beckham appears to have caught the ball and then touched both feet down while maintaining possession before Malcolm Butler swipes it out. Here, look, here he is, with his second foot down in possession of the ball:

If Beckham's TD catch had stood, the Giants probably would have won. Instead, they settled for a field goal, and the Patriots brought it the other way for a Stephen Gostkowski game-winner and a 27-26 win. The Pats would've needed a TD if it wasn't for the overturned TD.

Unlike previous "catch or not catch" confusion moments, the problem here isn't that Beckham was "going to the ground." It's somehow an even stupider rule.

The NFL's rules state that a player has to complete the catch through the moment he "becomes a runner," which is defined as the moment he "is capable of avoiding or warding off impending contact." This wording is new this year, replacing the dreaded "football move" language that previously existed.

It doesn't look like Beckham held the ball long enough to avoid or ward off impending contact:

So thus, he was not a runner. And that means this was not a blown call, by the NFL's rules. CBS rules expert Mike Carey said the call was right, as did FOX rules expert Mike Pereira:

On the 100 yards in the middle of the field, I could kinda sorta see how the "becomes a runner" rule makes sense. (Kinda.) When you catch the ball in those yards, you're supposed to keep running. It stands to reason you should have to control the ball until the moment you're "a runner."

A basic tenet of football is that when a player possesses the ball in the end zone, the play is over, and it's a touchdown. The only exception right now is on catches. No, Beckham didn't "become a runner," but he had possession of the ball in the end zone. In every other situation, that means it's a TD. Why not here?

The NFL should change its rules so this is a TD. Sadly, it's too late to save the Giants. (That said, knowing Tom Brady, he probably would've led a game-winning TD drive instead of a game-winning field goal drive had this TD counted.)

* * *

SB Nation presents: Every Sunday game, disrespected in minutes