Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 9/16/12

Complaint: Mike Williams caught a 29-yard pass at the end of the fourth quarter against the New York Giants. Officials declared it was an incomplete pass.

Defendant: Officials in the replay booth reviewing the call on the field.

The Case: Mike Williams caught a pass from Josh Freeman. He turned and sprinted up the sideline for the end-zone. After taking two steps, safety Antrel Rolle drove his body into Mike Williams. Williams fell out of bounds and the ball came loose.

The replay officials declared this was an incomplete pass because he didn't perform a separate football act after his second foot came down.

First, Antrel Rolle didn't hit Mike Williams until just before he had take three steps.

Second,  Mike Williams wasn't falling out-of-bounds. He was driven out-of-bounds. What's the difference?

Mike Williams was sprinting to the endzone when he was driven out-of-bounds. In those circumstances, according to the NFL Rule Book, he doesn't have to 'make a separate football act'. He merely has to "maintain control of the ball long enough to do so." 

http://static.nfl.com/static/content/public/image/rulebook/pdfs/2011_Rule_Book.pdf   Pg. 43, Article 3.

The rules for the NFL catch state the player must a) maintain possession, b) get two feet down or any body part other than a hand, and c) be able to perform any act common to the game.

In this particular case, as soon as Mike Williams second foot hits the ground he automatically fulfills all three necessary components. The fact that he is sprinting to the endzone and isn't falling out-of-bounds means he's performing a separate football act.

If untouched by a defender, Mike Williams next football act would have been a touchdown dance.

In this situation, Mike Williams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a golden opportunity snatched from them because a team of officials don't understand the rules behind the completed pass. 

The Official Word: The replacement officials on the field actually got the call right. They receive a pass. Those who contributed to overturning the call are guilty of gross negligence and stupidity. You are encouraged to forgo any immunizations you have planned. Perhaps, after you are riddled with disease, you will understand what it means to catch something. 



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