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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

BORN: Players should decide a game, not referees

Sunday’s NFC Divisional playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys was arguably the best game of the playoff season thus far. Green Bay is a perennial NFC contender, while the Cowboys, and specifically Tony Romo, have experienced a new level of success. So naturally, it wasn’t a matter of if, but when a highly-controversial call would be made.

It’s sad that NFL fans have come to expect a controversial call will happen nearly once a game, but that’s what happens when there are so many rules that can dictate how a game finishes. Dez Bryant’s non-catch late in the fourth quarter is a perfect example of this. He made an incredibly difficult play, and many people with various levels of knowledge of football believed it was a catch. But an extremely constricting call changed the touchdown catch into an incomplete pass and turnover on downs.

Of course, the Packers ended up winning the game 26-21.

The NFL rules state that if a player goes to the ground while making a catch, he must maintain control throughout the entire process of the catch. The call was changed because the ball hit the ground as Bryant was outstretched on the ground, which resulted in him losing possession of the ball for a split second. He technically made the catch, but didn’t finish the process despite having two feet and his body down inbounds.

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Rules like this should never, ever decide the outcome of a game, especially a playoff game.

The referees made the correct call. It’s in the rule book, and Bryant was a textbook example of this type of rule. But the rule itself hinders the game of football.

Watching the replays, it’s clear Bryant made an extremely athletic play, and he made the catch. Calvin Johnson suffered a similar situation in 2010, when he bobbled a catch in the end zone. His touchdown was overturned upon review and it cost the Detroit Lions an opening week win against the Chicago Bears. The “Calvin Johnson rule,” as it’s famously labeled, is a poor rule because players stay within the playing field, instead of going out of bounds for most bobble calls, because the ball doesn’t hit the ground, and, probably most importantly, the ground cannot cause a fumble.

It may be even worse because this isn’t the first time this postseason the referees have decided the outcome of a game.

In last week’s matchup against the Detroit Lions, the Cowboys were called for defensive pass interference. It was a clear pass interference call. After the official announced the penalty to the crowd however, he picked up the flag as if it never happened. Instead of a first and 10, the Lions were forced to punt, and the Cowboys took the lead on the ensuing drive and won the game.

Calls like these determine a game, something an official should never do. Instead of fans talking about Rodgers throwing for 316 yards and three touchdown passes, all with a tear in his calf, everyone is talking about Bryant’s catch. The NFL continues to micromanage the rules to try to make the game perfect, but fans and players alike don’t want rules to dictate games.

Just let the boys play.

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