Rest easy, Cleveland Browns fans: NFL approves new catch rule
While it was never an issue in any deciding game for the Cleveland Browns, we can all rest easier knowing the NFL shored up their convoluted catch rule
Don’t worry Cleveland Browns fans, we all finally know what the heck a catch is. Or, maybe the right term is the league finally knows.
The 32 NFL owners unanimously approved to adopt a new and simplified catch rule for the 2018 season and beyond. The NFL Competition Committee worked to find appropriate language to simplify the over complicated rule of what was and what wasn’t considered a catch.
The new rule comes after a year where there was much more confusion about what a catch was. The term “surviving the ground” seemed to be the motto of the league when it came to explaining the rule when confirming or overturning a catch that went under review.
Following the 2017 season, the NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron came forward, as well as several others in the league office, stating they wanted to make the rule easier to understand.
The last thing the league wants is confusion by its fans and players as to what constitutes a catch. He stated that several plays from past years have been looked at and reviewed to help come up with the correct language for the new rule.
The first popular instance of the rule coming under fire from media and fans alike happened in a game between the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions in 2010. Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson caught a pass late in the game to take the lead over the Chicago Bears with 30 seconds left. But the referees reviewed the call, and ruled it incomplete after he stood up and didn’t keep the ball in his hands.
Things got even worse in the 2015 NFC Divisional Round. Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant caught a pass near the goal line to set up a late go-ahead score for the Cowboys against the Green Bay Packers. The ball appears to move a little, but Bryant maintains control while going to the ground. The play was under significant heat because he was able to take multiple steps before going to the ground.
After this incident, the league adjusted language in the rule, and removed the words “football move” from the rule. That did little to make the rule simpler to understand.
The 2017 season had several incidents of the catch rule rear its ugly head, most notably Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James’ go ahead touchdown being overturned against the New England Patriots. This reversal likely cost the Steelers the number one seed in the AFC Playoffs.
The new rule reads much simpler, and lays out exactly what a catch is. NFL.com writer Kevin Patra writes the following definition of what will be considered a catch under the new rule, which reads just like Riveron posted to his Twitter less than a week ago:
"The new rules defining a catch include:1. Control of the ball.2. Two feet down or another body part.3. A football move such as:» A third step;» Reaching/extending for the line-to-gain;» Or the ability to perform such an act."
So you can now rest easy, Cleveland Browns fans. We know what a catch is. And most importantly, the receivers know what a catch is.
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The simplified rule will make it much easier for the fans to know what a catch is. More importantly, however, now Browns pass catchers to know exactly what to do to complete the catch, and leave no room for second guessing by the referees.