But the rule IS the same for a runner or receiver breaking the plane.Lots of posts here related to the catch, I'll respond here but really it's to all of them.
First of all my original post wasn't meant to be sour grapes. That play didn't win or lose the game - I thought the Steelers turtled up offensively which hurt them, and of course Brady and Gronk got into a rhythm offensively (and Pitt couldn't make an adjustment). NE made the plays at the end, and Pittsburgh didn't.
Furthermore, I look at ref calls as part of the overall tapestry of good and bad fortune that plays out over time - sometimes the ball will bounce one way, sometimes another, but over a season (or many seasons) things tend to even out. IOW, the refs are part of the game.
So again - my post wasn't meant to suggest Pitt lost because of this ruling. The Pats won a great game, and it's a testament to BB, TB and Gronk's greatness that Pitt basically was out of moves by the end of the game. You guys deserved the win and should be proud...
Now to the rule itself: this is a rule I’ve always disliked. I disliked it on the Dez Bryant non-catch. I disliked it yesterday, but I would have disliked it just as much if it had been the Pats losing a TD on an identical play, or if James’ catch had been ruled a TD in spite of the rule. IMHO this is one of many examples in recent years where the refs and the rulebook have wandered too deeply into actual gameplay, to the detriment of the game.
To be clear: this isn’t the worst rule out there. That distinction goes--hands-down--to the touchback rule on fumbles out of the end zone, which makes my blood boil every time I see it. I also don’t particularly love how PI penalties are levied on jump balls down the field (see: Flacco, Joe). And of course they’ve made an stupefying, incoherent mess of what a catch is generally.
But splitting hairs they way they do with this particular rule (specifically, different standards for runners vs receivers breaking the EZ plane) is not that far down the things I’d love to see changed.
I don’t doubt that they’ve spelled all of these rules out very clearly in the rulebook. But the criticism today isn’t against how clearly they’ve laid out the rule; it’s about net result of the rules themselves, which basically tells fans that something that walks like a duck and talks like a duck, is actually not a duck. If a given rule requires a multi-paragraph explanation from officiating authorities to explain it, maybe it warrants a second look and a course correction. They’ve gone so far down the rabbit hole with some of these things that nominally correct, ‘letter-of-the-law’ rulings often fly in the face of common sense.
To bring this all home - there’s a ton of national chatter today about the game. But it’s less about Gronk’s greatness, or the high level of gameplay, or what a fantastic and dramatic game it was generally….It’s largely about this (non)catch, and this particular rule. This happens far too often (and more to the point, more often than is necessary) in the NFL.
So my comment was more about an ongoing gripe I have with the way the refs seem to be increasingly front and center when it comes to NFL games.
As always, just my $.02...
If they break the plane WITH POSSESSION it’s a TD. If they break the plane BEFORE GAINING (or regaining) possession they must gain possession in the end zone.
2 examples this year that prove this.
Austin sefarian Jenkins was a RUNNER when he had possession, lost it, crossed the goal line, landed out of bounds and then regained possession.
As a receiver he completed the catch, became a runner then fumbled.
James on the other hand never became a runner because he never had possession of the football. Possession is attained (when going to the ground) only by maintain control of the football all the way to the ground.
This is consistent with every rule. You can have control of the ball but have your second foot land out of bounds and you never earned possession.
If James were standing in the end zone when he failed to complete the catch you would have the same result. Falling into the end zone WHILE TRYING TO EARN POSSESSION shouldn’t change the result.
The only way to change the rule would be to say if you get 2 hands on the football in the end zone it’s a TD so you have to reward TDs to every drop not just the ones that happen when going to the ground.