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.

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