I have talked about this catch/uncatch on Twitter and Facebook and here on my blog. First, let me say that I don’t think that Dez Bryant’s fabulous catch changed everything. An NFL game has several critical points. The Dallas Cowboys had several opportunities to beat the Green Bay Packers. In my opinion, not going for it on 4th and 1 late in the second quarter was a huge mistake. This allowed Aaron Rodgers and the Packers an opportunity to march down the field and kick a field goal before the half. Big mistake. The second huge, glaring error was DeMarco Murray’s fumble. This is the play of plays. I have watched this play five or six times. I’m positive that DeMarco Murray is running this play over and over in his head because that was really the game. Murray had a touchdown. The play was blocked up perfectly. There was a safety in the center of the field. There was no one else. Simply heartbreaking.
SB Nation has a great article on the catch. If you simply go through the sequence, Dez Bryant rises up and snatches the ball from the air. He turns away from Sam Shields. Dez takes two steps as he twists toward the goal line. Dez takes another step and lunges toward the goal line. He hits the ground as he stretches the ball toward the goal line. The ball pops up and Dez regains control as he rolls into the end zone.
First, it was a very athletic play. This catch was as beautiful as Lynn Swann’s sliding catch in the Super Bowl against the Cowboys more than four decades ago. Secondly, when does a receiver become a runner? Why does this matter? Because the rules for ball control are different. If Dez were still a receiver, then the ruling was correct. On the other hand, if Dez were a runner, since he had taken three steps and did what I think was a “football move” by twisting toward the end zone, then when Dez hits the ground and the ball pops up, this is a fumble which was recovered by Dez.
I don’t think that the NFL will ever clarify this play. It is what it is. I do not feel sorry for the Cowboys or Dez Bryant. The Cowboys had several other opportunities to win this game. Aaron Rodgers was on one leg and the Packers simply made more plays. Or to misquote John Madden, “The Cowboys lost because when time ran out and the game ended, they didn’t have more points than the Parkers. That’s why they lost. They needed more points.” 🙂