When a catch is not a catch

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

To catch? Or not to catch? That is the question. And it’s the question that everyone, especially Steelers fans, are asking themselves this morning.

Or more specifically, what is a catch? But before we get into that, let’s first recap.

Tom Brady and the Patriots did it again last night in an instant classic vs Pittsburgh. In a possible preview of the AFC title game, the golden boy lead the Pats down the field (again) to score a last minute touchdown and take the lead over the Steelers 27-24.

But Big Ben worked some magic of his own, two plays later and with 30 seconds remaining, the Steelers scored what was called a touchdown on the field with a pass over the middle to tight end Jesse James. The fans at Heinz field were going nuts, Pittsburgh had just pulled a Tom Brady and drove down the field for an improbable win. Or so we thought.

As the replay official took his time to examine the play, fans and announcers alike started questioning what was taking so long to get the touchdown confirmed. Even CBS play-by-play man, Jim Nantz, was wondering what the hold up could be. Then we saw it. The dreaded bobble. As James dove into the end zone with arms outstretched, the ball moved as he hit the ground. He was also untouched by the defense on his way down. So after a lengthy review, the referee in charge made the call. No catch, no touchdown.

Two plays later, big Ben threw a misguided slant in the end zone that turned into the game sealing interception for New England. After the dust settled, confusion persisted. What is considered a catch these days? With such a high profile game that involved two high profile teams to shine a light on this flaw, the NFL is going to have to figure out a way to get rid of the gray area that exists in what should be a simple situation.

“What is a catch” sounds like some kind of existential question you might study in philosophy class. But it is a real question that the rule makers are going to have to take seriously to give us a definition without any wiggle room. Because right now, the rule is as shaky as a bobbled “catch.”

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