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What They're Sayin': The Calvin Johnson Rule Needs To Go

Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports hints at the inevitable. Jermaine Gresham's not-touchdown reception in the fourth quarter is perhaps one of the most absurd rules in the NFL. With 5:43 remaining in the game on third and two from the Ravens two-yard line, Andy Dalton fires a fast ball to Gresham, who runs a hitch near the left sidelines a handful of yards beyond the first down. The football bounces off the tight end's chest, who manages to grasp the football for possession, breaking the goalline plane for the touchdown. As Gresham falls out of bounds, well beyond the goalline (with possession practically established in the rule of common sense), the football touches the ground and Gresham's hand momentarily slips off the football. After a five-minute review, the play is judged incomplete and the Bengals have to settle for a field goal.

Debating the issue of when Gresham established possession is clearly at hand, but so is the issue that a receive needs to maintain a reception for five minutes or a standard mile, whichever comes first. Officials have the most thankless job in professional sports today, required to make judgment calls within a rule book that not even a category five hurricane could budge.

But it's time for that rule to go. Jason Cole writes:

The NFL heads the list as its absurdly poor definition of a catch reared its ugly head in Baltimore. The fourth-quarter play by tight end Jermaine Gresham that was initially called a touchdown but overturned in review is a catch. Anyone with common sense knows that and the NFL has to find some way to make sure the rule negating receptions like this gets changed.

This play had a huge impact on the rest of the game. If the Bengals had scored a touchdown at that point, it would have changed how the end of the game was played (the Bengals could have kicked a field goal on fourth down rather than being forced to go for it). There is no question that this rule has caused too much confusion. Bottom line: There is a difference between a player losing control of the ball and a player using the ball to brace himself from a fall as if it was an extension of his hand.

Clark Judge of agrees with Cole's sentiment that the rule needs to go.

5. After watching replays of Jermaine Gresham's non-touchdown, I'm convinced the NFL needs to do something, anything to address the Calvin Johnson rule. I mean, when is a catch a catch? Once I knew. Not anymore ... and I think I have company. It took Ron Winter's crew five minutes to sort this out, but, according to the Johnson rule, I believe they got it right. Yeah, I know, it looked like a catch to me, too, but the rule says it wasn't. So get rid of it. Please.