Dez Bryant now knows the sting of the mysterious “football move” rule.
The Dallas Cowboys wide receiver appeared to snag a critical fourth down pass in the divisional round playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, putting his team on the 1-yard line with a chance to take the lead.
But instead the play was challenged by Packers coach Mike McCarthy, and overturned on the basis that Bryant did not make a “football move” before hitting the ground and losing control of the ball. The ball went to the Packers, who ran out the clock with two first downs and headed to the NFC Championship game.
Had Bryant made what officials deem a “football move,” then instead of an incomplete pass it would have been ruled a fumble that Bryant himself recovered after rolling into the endzone, giving the Cowboys the go-ahead touchdown.
Many disagreed with the call.
How is reaching for the goal line for a touch down not a football move?
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) January 11, 2015
Dez Bryant not only caught the ball and made a football play, he came very close to slamming the ball on the goal line for a TD. ROBBERY!
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 11, 2015
After the game, the play generated quite a bit of controversy and some glee from Lions fans. Last week it was the Cowboys who benefited from a shady call, with referees picking up a flag for pass interference against the Cowboys that would have kept a Lions drive alive.
I hope Cowboys fans don’t relentlessly focus on one play. I mean, they had plenty of time to win afterward. Get over it. Move on.
— Bob Wojnowski (@bobwojnowski) January 11, 2015
Many compared the Dez Bryant play to Calvin Johnson’s non-touchdown in the season opener in 2010. Johnson caught what appeared to be a touchdown as time expired, but referees ruled that he didn’t have control after falling to the ground.
Here is the complete wording of the rule (via Fox Sports):
“If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.”
Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys now have all offseason to try to learn the definition of “football move” and to let that loss sink in.