NFL head of officials: We need more consistency on catch rulings

Mike Wallace had a season-high 127 receiving yards last week. (USATSI)
Wide Receiver Mike Wallace had his biggest game of the season last Sunday, hauling in five passes for 127 yards and a touchdown in the Dolphins' 20-16 loss to the Panthers. But according to how the NFL has defined what constitutes a catch, Wallace should have only had four receptions for 70 yards.

(Remember when you played football in your backyard as a kid and everybody knew what a catch was? Now we're at the point where no one -- even those who enforce the rules -- has any idea what is and isn't a catch. Good times.)

Here's Wallace's 57-yard reception that ends with the ball coming loose once he hits the ground. We have all been conditioned to know that this is an incomplete pass.

Except that the officials ruled it a catch -- even after the Panthers challenged the call.

A brief history lesson: This all came to a head during Week 1 of the 2010 season when Lions wideout Calvin Johnson caught what appeared to be a touchdown pass that was ruled incomplete because, as Giants president John Mara explained several months later, “The reason it’s not a catch is you’ve got to control the ball when you hit the ground. It makes it easier to officiate. It’s a bright line that you can draw.”

Meanwhile, in a video distributed to the media, VP of officials Dean Blandino explained what was already knew: The pass to Wallace should have been ruled an incompletion.

“The ball comes loose when he hits the ground,” Blandino said, via PFT. “This is an incomplete pass. We didn’t rule it this way, and again, we’ve got to work and strive to be more consistent with our game officials to make sure they understand this.”

The implication: The officials don't fully understand what a catch is. In a game where the forward pass is an integral part of the action, this revelation seems problematic.

“We’ll continue to direct officials on this topic, on this issue and make sure that we continue to work on consistency in this area,” Blandino said.

* .GIF via FanSided

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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