Nobody knows what a catch is.
The rule is basically impossible to interpret. Everyone thought/knew Calvin Johnson caught that ball in the end zone a few years ago. Everyone thought/knew Dez Bryant caught that ball down the sideline last year. Everyone thought/knew Devonta Freeman caught that ball over the middle last week.
And because everyone was told they were wrong about those plays, everyone thought this Golden Tate touchdown was not, in fact, a catch, because he didn't control the ball all the way to the ground, or whatever.
The play was initially called an interception which, based on previous interpretations of the rule, seems correct but still not necessarily "right." Of course, the official then overturned the play and said it was a touchdown, which just makes no sense.
The People of the Internet, in their wisdom, reacted with mass confusion.
So did Dean Blandino just give the Lions a make-up call for the illegal bat in Seattle and the picked up flag in Dallas?— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) October 18, 2015
Don't feel bad about getting the Golden Tate TD wrong, @MikePereira. No one knows what a catch is in the NFL.— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) October 18, 2015
Wow! Don't understand that ruling in the Det/Chi game That is an interception every day!— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) October 18, 2015
And so it begins again, our nationwide quest to learn what a catch is in the NFL.— Robert Mays (@robertmays) October 18, 2015
That's a TD because of the "If Golden Tate makes a weird catch in the end zone, it's a TD" clause in the catch rule pic.twitter.com/6xxliMDeAR— John Breech (@johnbreech) October 18, 2015
There has never been a catch in NFL history.— Yaya Dubin (@JADubin5) October 18, 2015
this is a touchdown pic.twitter.com/2THSGQ4svI— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) October 18, 2015
As for former NFL official and Vice President of officiating Mike Pereira, here was his interpretation.
That's incredible to me... but that's New York's judgement that he had become a runner. I disagree with the call #CHIvsDET— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) October 18, 2015
We've looked at that play 10 more times, and find it hard to believed based on the current guidelines that he was a runner #CHIvsDET— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) October 18, 2015
Should it have been a touchdown? Who knows. Nobody knows what a touchdown is anyway.
For his part, current NFL VP of officiating Dean Blandino went on the NFL Red Zone channel and gave an explanation of why the play was called a touchdown.
We just had a review in the Lions-Bears game. The ruling on the field was interception. Golden Tate controlled the pass right at the goal line. The ball came loose and wasn’t eventually caught by a Chicago defender.
This is different than the plays we’ve been talking about, the Dez Bryant play or the Calvin Johnson play. This is not a receiver’s who’s going to the ground. The issue here is ‘Did he become a runner before the ball came loose?’ Did he have control? Both feet down and time enough to become a runner after the second foot is down.
When you watch the play, when the ball comes loose, he’s taking his third step. The third step is almost on the ground when the ball comes out. He had demonstrated possession had, become a runner. once the ball breaks the plane of the goal line in the possession of the runner, it is a touchdown and the play is over at that point.