It was the most spectacular catch of the playoffs, maybe of the entire season -- and then it wasn't.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant's amazing, 31-yard reception on fourth down against the Green Bay Packers in Sunday's NFC divisional playoff almost seemed too good to be true. Upon review, referees said it was, reversing their initial decision after determining Bryant never had full possession of the ball.
The call ruined the Cowboys' chances of a comeback. Instead of getting the ball just outside the end zone with about four minutes left to play, Green Bay took possession and held on for a 26-21 victory.
The controversial decision unleashed a fury of responses on social media from fans and athletes who couldn't understand why Bryant's catch wasn't legitimate. Bryant told reporters after the game that he believed it was a catch.
“All I know is I had possession, I had possession of the ball coming down,” Bryant said. “That's possession, right? One, two, reach. Bam, that's possession.”
Dean Blandino, the NFL’s director of officiating, disagreed.
“By rule he must hold onto it throughout entire process of contacting the ground,” Blandino tweeted. “He didn't, so it is incomplete.”
The primary issue with the ruling was that it left many football fans confused as to what constitutes a catch in the NFL. Sure, the cheese-bleeders and Cowboys haters probably lauded the league’s letter-of-the-law following of the rulebook, but for many fans, it’s difficult to understand how a receiver who makes three steps after hauling in a pass is not in possession of the ball.
So does the NFL owe it to the players and fans to reexamine the rule in the offseason?