Unfortunately what most people remember is its questionable officiating. It began with the Cowboys first touchdown, which was set up by a bad pass interference call, and ended with the now-infamous Dez Bryant overturned reception late in the fourth quarter. The latter ended the Cowboys last chance to score and sealed the victory for the Packers.
My initial reaction agreed with the call on the field: that Bryant caught the ball. I thought the same thing even after I saw the replay a few times. However, once Fox officiating expert Mike Pereira began explaining it, and I watched the more slowed down replays, I realized that I was wrong. As Pereira said: “The rule is very specific…in the process of going to the ground you must maintain control of the ball when you hit the ground.” The ground doesn’t cause a fumble but it does cause an incomplete pass.
At first I also agreed that the play was too close to be overturned. But this isn’t the case. The rule is that he has to control the ball when he hits the ground. The replay clearly showed that he didn’t. The evidence conclusively proves that the officials did the right thing by overturning the call.
A better question, of course, is whether the rule is a good one or not. I don’t usually agree with Joe Buck but he nailed it in his analysis: “Common sense tells you that was a catch but by the letter of the letter of the law and the rule book he didn’t control it going to the ground.” Rules should be based on common sense and as such I do believe that the rule should be changed.
It’s too bad that such a good game is being overshadowed by controversy. The 2014 NFL season hasn’t exactly been its most exciting. It’s sad that one of its only legitimate classic games isn’t being correctly heralded because of a general misunderstanding of a questionable rule.
For more evidence regarding the Dez Bryant's no-catch check out Mike Pereira’s explanation, an article from a Dallas Cowboys blog, and the SB Nation article about it.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik's music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.