Just What Is a Catch in the NFL Today?

I realized this weekend that I had no idea what an NFL catch really is. I used to know. But after this year, especially, I am just so confused. Case in point: this weekend’s Packer game.

There were two catches by Jets players where a Packer player also had a hold of the ball. So both players went down to the ground, both equally holding on to the ball. When both players were on the ground, the whistle was not blown, and in both cases a Packer pulled the ball out of the Jets’ player’s hands and ran with it. Both times this was ruled as an interception. But clearly, a tie always goes to the offense, and these were both ties. Furthermore, when both players were on the ground, the play should have been blown dead.

Instead, officials let the play continue. Neither of these plays could be defined as a “loose” ball, which is defined by the NFL as:

Loose Ball: A live ball not in possession of any player.

Clearly, both players had their hands on the ball, and in such case this should have been ruled a catch for the Jets. Furthermore, this to me implied “possession” of the ball by the Jets, which is defined as:

Possession: When a player controls the ball throughout the act of clearly touching both feet, or any other part of his body other than his hand(s), to the ground inbounds.

In both cases, it looked like Packer players laid on the ground along with the Jets player (who had the ball in his hands) only to roll over, snatch the ball, and run. Compare these plays to that infamous Lions’ touchdown in Week 1, where it was ruled “not a catch” because the player didn’t have “intent” throughout the entire catch (supposedly, even though he did by the looks of every camera in the stadium).

More and more I’m feeling as if I can no longer say with all clarity that is indeed a catch when I watch the games. Anyone else think this?

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