No, the Dallas Cowboys were not robbed by officials near the end of Sunday’s divisional playoff against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
Dez Bryant went up for an apparent trademark grab late in the fourth quarter that was later overturned due to a rule that’s emerging as having no place in the NFL. Had the catch stood, Dallas would have had a first and goal from inside the one yard-line in a game the Cowboys trailed 26-21.
But Bryant, after going up and over Packers cornerback Sam Shields along the sideline, caught the pass, and came down with clear possession with the ball tucked tightly in his left arm and hand. The issue was that the ball was bobbled as Bryant reached out towards the goal line well after he was on the ground.
Based on the NFL rulebook, this call was correct. Based on logic, the rule itself is completely stupid. Now, there’s nothing to say that, had the catch stood, Dallas would have scored a touchdown, although it was a virtual certainty the way the Cowboys offensive line dominated the Packers defensive front for most of the game.
There’s also nothing to prove that the Dallas defense would have been able to stop the one legged quarterback wearing #12 that’s about to be devoured by a different #12 next week in the Pacific Northwest. But we do know this for sure: The NFL rule book has taken many great plays away because it contradicts itself when judging receptions – why? Who knows?
When it’s a running back that gets tackled and the ball comes out after he’s ruled down, he’s protected from a fumble because of the ‘down by contact’ rule, something that has not always existed in the NFL. In this case, it should.
When it’s a receiver or tight end that’s made a catch, just like Bryant’s, all bets are off when determining whether or not he deserves the reception.
The receiver, as we saw today and previously, can make a catch with both hands, come down with two feet in the field of play, get tackled and brought down, but still lose out.
This rule is also a relatively new concept that undoubtedly came because somebody at NFL headquarters close to a decade ago saw something to pick on. They did so as though it was a growing problem that receivers catching the ball were more and more wanting to lose control due to hitting the ground.
What’s the gain there?
There’s not one and this is a textbook example of over-legislation – another one – in the NFL, period.
Once a receiver has demonstrated possession of the ball, which includes getting those feet down, he should enjoy the same protection any other skill player does once he has been brought down by a defender.
In this case, Bryant had a defensive back draped all over him and after making a clear catch with two hands should have been ruled down the instant he was down – elbows, knees, hip, butt, head or body no longer off the ground.
This was absolutely the case at Lambeau and like other bad rules, from time to time, this one needs to go. All fans of the NFL are hurt by this because it only takes something away that’s completely unnecessary and also contradictory to NFL history.
In other words, if the ground can’t cause a fumble in the NFL then it shouldn’t be able to cause an incompletion either, like it didn’t for decades.
No, the Cowboys weren’t screwed over by officials or anything like that. But the NFL embarrassed itself yet again as it put it’s officials in the very awkward position of negating a great and possibly historic play because of a rule with little history or reasoning.