Sterling Shepard Got Three Feet Down, But It Wasn't a Touchdown Because of Bad Catch Rule

Sterling Shepard Got Three Feet Down, But It Wasn't a Touchdown Because of Bad Catch Rule

NFL

Sterling Shepard Got Three Feet Down, But It Wasn't a Touchdown Because of Bad Catch Rule

Sterling Shepard caught a pass in the end zone that would have given the New York Giants their first touchdown of the day. He took two steps (but in bang-bang fashion he didn’t know that) and then dragged a third foot. That drag caused him to then fall out of bounds, and he lost control after falling to the ground.

Under the current NFL rules, it was a non-catch. I’ve railed on it so many times but here’s another example. That SHOULD be a catch. He caught it, got three feet down, and then fell. He was not going to the ground to control the ball. If he had just run out of bounds without trying to drag that last foot, it would have been called a touchdown on review.

This came up last year in bizarre fashion with a Ted Ginn play that was ultimately ruled as a Cam Newton interception. In that one, Ginn caught the ball, stumbled for four steps, then went to the ground, and the ball popped up in the air (without contacting the ground) and went to a defender.

The year before, I laid out what my clear line catch rule would be in divining this “going to the ground” stuff.

My change? Once a player has taken three different footsteps after finally satisfying provision (a) dealing with control, the going to the ground rule no longer applies. It has the simplistic effect of having a clear dividing line that leaves no interpretation.

Under the NFL’s rule, a player could stumble indefinitely for several seconds and it would not be considered a catch no matter how long the player had possession. Under my desired rule, if it was determined that Shepard got two feet down before the attempted toe drag, then falling down after that third contact would have not mattered. He made the catch.

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