By and large no one knows what is and what is not a catch in the NFL. And for the umpteenth time, Jesse James went to catch a would-be game-winning pass from Ben Roethlisberger and lost control as he went to the ground, but after he crossed the plane of the goal line.when Pittsburgh tight end
People were pretty upset about the situation, but Patriots coach Bill Belichick thinks it was the right ruling and that the end zone catch situation is "very clearly stated."
Belichick, speaking on a conference call with reporters, also added a good point: if you don't rule those plays incomplete, you end up with tons of completed passes that turn into fumbles.
"Well, I think that's really a conversation for people like Al [Riveron] and the league and so forth. But, there's always been a philosophy in the league and it's gone back several decades of philosophically whether you want to have a catch and a fumble or an incomplete pass, and the philosophy has always been incomplete pass. Otherwise, you'd have a million catches and fumbles. I agree with that," Belichick said. "The catch in the end zone is very clearly stated, so you've got to complete a catch. It's pretty clear. Whether there's a better way to do that, I don't know. It's a tough rule. It's a bang-bang play. It could go either way, so I think you have to have a philosophy and whatever philosophy you have then there will be people on the other side with a different philosophy and then it really gets back into that whole discussion.
"I think if you've got a better way to do it, suggest it and let somebody take a look at it and we'll talk about it. I don't know."
That's the biggest problem: it's easy to get really upset about the fact that no one knows what is and what is not a catch. But it is very difficult to come up with a simple solution that will fix everything.
James clearly bobbled the ball on the play in question, but there are instances from Sunday where plays were ruled touchdowns -- the Panthers buttcheek situation, for example -- and .
You NFL VP of Officiating Alberto Riveron, and then James did push the ball over the plane of the goal line.James' catch was incomplete. By the letter of the law, he did not "survive the ground" and therefore the ball should be incomplete. If he lost control and then regained it but the pass was complete, it would be weird for that situation to be a fumble. On the other hand, Roethlisberger did complete a pass, in the words of
If you moved the play out into the middle of the field, the play would have been ruled incomplete, although James may not have stretched for additional yards if he was simply in the middle of the field.
This might be way Patriots players pointed out they are coached not to try and stretch for extra yards and that ball security is worth more than a touchdown in the case of trying to reach for the end zone on the one-yard line. We saw in multiple instances on Sunday the result of such stretching can be an incomplete pass -- the Steelers would lose two plays later on an interception -- or perhaps a fumble into the goal line -- which cost the Raiders a win against the Cowboys on Sunday night -- and such results can be disastrous.
Hate the rule all you want and dislike the Patriots all you want but Belichick knows the rulebook as well as anyone and coaches his players to maximize the letter of the NFL law.