NFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino joins NFL Network’s NFL Total Access each Tuesday night, and he usually is addressing the catch rule. NFL Network’s Dan Hellie asked Blandino if the rules ever confuse even him.
“I’m never confused, but I’m certainly always looking to see if we can simplify things and believe me, we donât want to have rules where people are confused and not sure what is a catch and what isn’t a catch. I feel like we do have good rules, but we’re always going to evaluate them and tweak them when needed,” Blandino said.
In short: The only constant to the catch rule is change. Blandino stressed that Tate had almost taken a third step after catching the ball before losing the ball.
“Anywhere else, it’s really a catch and a fumble,” Blandino said. “In the end zone because you can’t fumble in your opponent’s (end zone), that’s when it becomes a catch and a touchdown. When we look at the play… Forget about going to the ground, this is a different part of the rule. It’s different from the Dez (Bryant) play, the (Tyler) Eifert play or the (DeVonta) Freeman play. This is an upright receiver who’s attempting to catch the pass.
“He’s going to remain upright through that process and so the key is control, both feet down and, the after the second foot, does he have the ball long enough to become a runner? And when you watch the replay, he does not have to hold it all the way to the ground. He’s going to get his second foot down, control … the right foot is the second foot.
“And now, does he have the ball long enough to establish himself as a runner? He’s going to turn, take a third step and then the ball comes out. That’s what makes this a catch and, in the zone, a touchdown. It’s a different part of the rule. He’s not going to the ground. He’s upright, attempting to catch the pass while remaining upright. He has to have control, two feet and then that time to establish himself as a runner.”
Got all that? Blandino also admitted that it was a “close” call, but believed that tape provided indisputable evidence worthy of an overturn. The next debate when it comes to the catch rule might be about the meaning of the word “indisputable.”