In the recent Steelers versus Colts playoff game, Troy Polamalu caught a pass that Peyton Manning threw. He dove, caught the ball, and got up to run with it. As he was getting up the ball popped out of his arm. He jumped on the fumble and stayed down to ensure that the Steelers would keep the ball. Tony Dungy threw the red flag (in desperation) and the referee overturned the call on the field. I’ve looked for rules regarding what constitutes a reception of a pass. The NFL site says the following:
A forward pass is complete when a receiver clearly possesses the pass and touches the ground with both feet inbounds while in possession of the ball. If a receiver would have landed inbounds with both feet but is carried or pushed out of bounds while maintaining possession of the ball, pass is complete at the out-of-bounds spot.
The folks on ESPN NFL Live reported some interesting commentary on the interception call reversal. They all agreed that when Dungy threw the red flag that there was no chance that the call would be overturned. They went on to say that if the rules state that Troy’s knee must be off the ground, then we can disagree with the rule, but it is then a good call. If it is a judgement call, then the umpire made a horrible call. Apparently an NFL representative released a statement that said it was Pete Morelli’s judgement. This indicates that there is no rule that states anything about knees leaving the ground or otherwise.
I was horrified by this call. Of course we also had the “Do Over Non-Call” that the referees settled on. Faneca flinched and the Colts came across the line. The refs blew the play dead, talked for a few minutes and then decided to not call a penalty either way. This amounts to the Nerf Football games of my youth when the ball would go into the creek. We always had a “do over” because our games occurred in someone’s backyard. Not an NFL stadium.
The Steelers played very well against the Golden Boys of the 2005 NFL season. The officiating in this game was horrendous and Joey Porter summed it up perfectly when he said the following after the game:
“I don’t even know what to say because I don’t know if the league will fine me for saying how I feel we got cheated out there today. But on that play right there, that man caught the ball, got on the ground, was getting back up, and knocked the ball out with his knee. I mean, I know they wanted Indy to win this game, the whole world loved Peyton Manning, but c’mon man, don’t take the game away from us like that. And with that play right there they tried to take the game away from us.“