What is a catch in the NFL? That's debatable

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Let's have a discussion about what constitutes a catch in the NFL. Does anyone reallyknow? I'm not sure officials do. Here's what the NFL classifies a catch, per its rule book.

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A forward pass is complete (by the offense) or intercepted (by the defense) if a player executes a three-step process:

  • secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground;
  • and touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands;
  • and maintains control of the ball after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, until he has clearly become a runner (see 3-2-7 Item 2).

So, essentially, a player needs to collect the pass, have both feet inbounds (or have a knee, butt, elbow, hit the ground inbounds), and keep control of the ball. Seems simple enough.

And yet, here we are in the Super Bowl debating what in the hell makes a catch. Jerricho Cotchery appeared to collect a ball and take it to the ground with the ball not hitting the turf. However, officials declared that he did not fully control the ball all the way through the catch – both in the official call and after a replay. Debatable.



Dez Bryant, Calvin Johnson, and now Cotchery. It's amazing that a game that's basically pitch and catch can't figure out what the latter part is.

Ranking the last 10 Super Bowls

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Ranking the last 10 Super Bowls
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What is a catch in the NFL? That's debatable

10. Super Bowl XLVIII: Seattle defeats Denver 43-8

Regardless of who you were pulling for in this one (unless you're a Seahawks fan) this was indisputably the worst Super Bowl in recent memory. From the opening snap, it was an all-out onslaught by Seattle. Hopefully for Peyton Manning, this year's game goes a little differently.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

9. Super Bowl XLI: Indianapolis defeats Chicago 29-17

Otherwise known as the time Rex Grossman played in a Super Bowl, 2007's big game -- aside from acting as Peyton Manning's lone championship -- was mostly forgettable. The Bears logged just three points over the final three quarters, and Indy, favored by seven, covered the spread.

(Photo by Gary W. Green/MCT/MCT via Getty Images)

8. Super Bowl XLI: Pittsburgh defeats Seattle 21-10

In Jerome Bettis' final NFL game, he went out a champion. Ben Roethlisberger, in just his second season, earned his first Super Bowl ring, in a game that was relatively low-scoring -- but did include Antwaan Randle El's heroic touchdown pass to Hines Ward.

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

7. Super Bowl XLV: Green Bay defeats Pittsburgh 31-25

Aaron Rodgers' only championship to date came against a 12-4 Steelers team. He went for 304 yards and threw three touchdowns without getting intercepted, while Jordy Nelson racked up 140 yards on nine catches. 

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

6. Super Bowl XLIV: New Orleans defeats Indianapolis 31-17

In the game that brought a championship to New Orleans after the city endured so much heartbreak years earlier, the Saints knocked off Peyton Manning's Colts. Sean Peyton's daring onside kick after halftime rests as one of the boldest playcalls in Super Bowl history.

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

5. Super Bowl XLVI: NY Giants defeat New England 21-17

It wasn't quite as exhilarating as the previous time New York knocked off the Patriots, but an unexpected, come-from-behind victory against a favored New England team provided football fans with a great product on Super Bowl Sunday, 2012.

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

4. Super Bowl XLVII: Baltimore defeats San Francisco 34-31

Super Bowl MVP, Joe Flacco. The dream became a reality in February 2013, when Baltimore knocked off Colin Kaepernick's 49ers in the infamous blackout Super Bowl. Ray Lewis went out a champion in his final NFL game.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum, FIle)

3. Super Bowl XLIII: Pittsburgh defeats Arizona 27-23

This one featured James Harrison's classic 99-yard fumble recovery, Santonio Holmes' epic touchdown grab and an ill-fated, yet still exciting, Cardinals rally in the final quarter.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

2. Super Bowl XLII: NY Giants defeat New England 17-14

The day David Tyree's name went down in Giants history -- and Super Bowl history -- forever. New York spoiled the Patriots' attempt at an undefeated, 19-0 season -- something nobody has come close to completing since. 

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel/FILE)

1. Super Bowl XLIX: New England defeats Seattle 28-24

The most thrilling Super Bowl of the last decade is also the most recent. Malcolm Butler's last-second interception to fend off the Seahawks' attempt at a go-ahead score will forever live in Patriots lore, as Tom Brady clinched his fourth championship.

(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

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