NFL catch rule: Dez Bryant, Jesse James non-catches would now count

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Fans of football are going to be excited about the new catch rule, proposed by the NFL's Competition Committee at the 2018 NFL Annual Meeting, because it injects common sense into an archaic and confusing rule. Fans of the Cowboys and Steelers are going to find the change a little bittersweet, however.

That's because both the Dez Bryant catch, which potentially cost the Cowboys a playoff victory in Green Bay, and the Jesse James catch, which potentially cost the Steelers home-field advantage throughout the 2018 NFL Playoffs, would have counted under the new rule.

Yes, you read that right: Dez caught it. 

That's assuming the new rule passes, which is extremely likely. NFL vice president of officiating Al Riveron presented multiple video examples of what the NFL planned to do in terms of changes to the catch rule, including the Bryant catch and the James catch.

With the Bryant catch, Riveron noted that Dez had "control" and then took three steps. The fact that he's going to the ground does not matter -- Dez reached for the goal line and came up short, but ultimately it would be ruled he was short of the goal line and the Cowboys would have gotten a first-and-goal situation. 

In case you need a reminder, the Cowboys were trailing 26-21 with just over four minutes remaining. They would have been in a very good position to secure a victory and advance in the playoffs. It's a brutal what-if scenario, because the Packers took over on downs and won the game.

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via NFL Broadcast

The James situation plays out in similar fashion. The Steelers were trailing 27-24 to the Patriots in a regular-season game that was set to determine who would get the No. 1 AFC seed. 

If James scores, with less than 30 second on the clock, the Steelers are feeling GREAT about not having to travel for the playoffs. Instead, the James catch was ruled incomplete, the Steelers were forced to keep playing and after hitting a receiver inbounds on a throw, Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception to seal the Patriots win.

New England would ultimately represent the AFC in the Super Bowl after an embarrassing loss for Pittsburgh against the Jaguars

Pittsburgh looked shook following the loss to the Patriots and it carried over into the playoffs

The goal here is ultimately a good one. 

"We want to take these great catches and make them catches," Riveron said enthusiastically.

Essentially, receivers are now similar to runners from a perspective of having a plane to cross. If you secure the ball and get the ball to cross the plane of the goal line -- what is basically considered "a football move" -- it's going to be a touchdown.

There will be some hiccups here, because there are always hiccups with the catch rule. But at the end of the day, it should be a net benefit for the average fans.

It's just that Cowboys and Steelers fans out there are going to be forced to relieve their various catch-rule scenarios from the past few years over and over and over. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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