New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry appeared to make a touchdown catch on Thanksgiving, but the call was overturned after replay review.
Hunter Henry did not control the ball all the way to the ground, or at least that’s what the officials said. However, it proved to be another case of football fans having very little understanding as to what a catch actually is.
Henry got two feet down, possessed the ball and broke the plane of the goal line. So, what was the problem? When Henry hit the ground, the ball moved slightly, despite the fact that his hand was underneath it. Officials used that angle to overturn the call.
As was the case with Dez Bryant’s infamous no-catch, and even Jesse James of the Pittsburgh Steelers several years ago at the goal line, we’re left in complete confusion.
If we can’t understand the very basic definition of a catch, then perhaps the officiating crews are overcomplicating it to begin with.
Did Hunter Henry and Patriots get robbed?
The NFL rulebook makes the definition of a catch relatively clear:
A player who makes a catch may advance the ball. A forward pass is complete (by the offense) or intercepted (by the defense) in the field of play, at the sideline, or in the end zone if a player, who is inbounds:
a. secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground; and
b. touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands; and
c. after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, performs any act common to the game (e.g., tuck the ball away, extend it forward, take an additional step, turn upfield, or avoid or ward off an opponent), or he maintains control of the ball long enough to do so.
Yet, why wasn’t Henry’s catch…a catch? The argument from any officiating crew, including NBC’s so-called expert, is that Henry didn’t maintain complete control. And, no, it doesn’t matter that his hand was under the ball.
I don’t have an answer. Sadly, until the NFL simplifies the rule, there will always be some confusion on plays just like this.