NFL tweak the catch rule

NFL referees have changed the way catches will be ruled during the forthcoming 2015 season.

After the controversial Dez Bryant decision in the 2014 play-offs cost the Dallas Cowboys a spot in the NFC Championship Game, the NFL made the decision to change the rules.

The NFL Competition Committee has changed the rule, which means that from the start of the 2015 season a receiver must catch a ball and “clearly establish himself as a runner”, instead of the old rule of simply catching a football and a catch being ruled a catch if a “football act” was being performed. Both feet would still need to touch the ground, as per NFL rules.

In the NFC Play-Off game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, Bryant was adjudged to not have completed a football move as he came down close to the end-zone by TV officials after originally being given the catch.

St Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher told US media that he was happy with the rule change: “We spent a lot of time on it. I think it really clears things up.

“If you’re going to the ground, hang onto the ball. It’s really pretty simple. To include if you become a runner, I think it really cleans things up for us. If you start talking about reaching the ball out, you invite a lot of gray area back into the interpretation.”

The decision came before the NFL’s Annual Meetings in Phoenix this week. The Competition Committee also put out an edict saying that they were opposed to expanding instant replay on the grounds that it would have “unforeseen negative effects for officials on the playing field.”

Steelers owner Art Rooney is opposed to the rule because of game length. “I think the instant replay system is working fine. Sure, it would be nice to have different and more plays reviewed, but you have to do that in the context of how many can you really fit into a game and not wind up with a four-hour game.”