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Calvin Johnson play will not lead to rule change

Many thought disputed non-catch would lead to new guidelines Brad Biggs

Print This March 14, 2011, 03:48 PM EST

The Calvin Johnson catch that wasn’t a catch – you know the one with 24 seconds remaining in the Week 1 meeting between the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears at Soldier Field – will not spark a rule change in the NFL.

Newsday’s Bob Glauber reported that news today, surprising some people who thought the league would rework a rule that seemed to go against much of what you think when you’re watching the game. The overturned touchdown turned out to be the difference between the Bears making the playoffs at 11-5 and missing the playoffs at 10-6. 

“That play will still be incomplete,” New York Giants owner John Mara, a member of the competition committee, told Glauber. 

According to the report, the reason behind remaining with the status quo is the belief that a change would leave too much interpretation for the officials.

“If you read the rule, it’s not a catch,” Mara said. “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.”

Johnson had the ball when he hit the ground, and it was when he went to brace himself and get up, the ball came out of his hand. You can watch video of it right here.

Mike Pereira, the former head of officiating for the NFL, figured a rule change was on the way.

"It doesn't pass the the eye test, smell test, whatever you want to call it test," Pereira told me in January during the playoffs. "It doesn't pass it. I think replay has really hurt this aspect of the game because it has taken an element of what is common sense, and the Calvin Johnson play is the play, that is a common-sense play. It leads you to believe that was a touchdown. But replay has taken everything to the literal sense of the rule, and the rule says when you're going to the ground and you hit the ground, body and ball, you gotta hold onto it.

"That's taking it away from putting it somewhat in the officials' hands to make it black and white. That's generally good, but when all of a sudden those black-and-white decisions are contrary to what everybody believes then you have to look at it, and I think they will look at it."

So, wait for the next go-ahead score, or apparent go-ahead score, in the final minute of a game to spark some controversy.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune
 

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