I don’t know if, by NFL rules, Dez “caught” the game-changing lob on 4th and 2 this past Sunday. I really don’t. I do believe, however, that the refs never should have overturned that call. Whether subsection A paragraph 54 clause 16 (made up) of the NFL rule book deems it a catch or not, there is a fine line in which refs need to let the game be played and not interrupted by technicalities. Green Bay really may have deserved to win the game, but Dallas might have, too. The referees of this game cost fans the opportunity to see the game play out how it was meant to, and they cost the Cowboys the shot to win they deserved. Game 2 of the 2012 NBA Finals is the perfect example of the right way to make this call.
As Game 2 of the 2012 NBA Finals winded down, the Miami Heat led the Oklahoma City Thunder 98-96 when Kevin Durant got the ball and got ready to make his move on Lebron for the tying bucket. As he drove, KD felt Lebron on his heels and knew he wouldn’t get to the basket, so he elevated and fired a jump shot. On the way up, he was undoubtedly bumped a bit by Lebron. The shot missed. There was no call. Game over.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQHTwWUyCXo – Video of KD Shot
That was the greatest officiating decision I’ve ever witnessed as the refs did just the right thing. That’s because although the refs maybe should have blown the whistle and called that foul had it been the first quarter or the regular season, they understood that this was crunch time, and a game shouldn’t end on a technicality. The refs left fans with one of the all-time suspenseful endings by not interfering and leaving fans hanging on that one shot. The Durantula, for all his greatness, didn’t miss the last shot of Game 2 because Lebron bumped him: he just missed it. The Heat won that game because they deserved to. The refs didn’t get in the way, they let the players play.
The Heat deserved to win that game and they did. I’m not trying to say that the Cowboys deserved to win, I’m trying to say that they deserved a shot to win, and fans deserved to watch what could’ve been a classic, not a controversy. Can you imagine if the refs let the game play out, gave Dez the catch, the Cowboys punch it in from the one and now Aaron Rodgers has the ball, down 2 or 3, with a minute and a half left and the ball on his own twenty? Can you imagine what a great game, what an incredible ending that would have been? Only then would we have seen who the real winner of that game was.
So yeah, the refs should’ve given Dez the catch, there’s no doubt in my mind. Drop the rulebooks for a second and try telling yourself that with the game on the line, the score 26-21, on fourth and 2, that it was the Packers who made the big play to change the game by somehow inducing the ball that Dez Bryant caught to touch the ground after three steps. Can’t do it can you? That’s because you know that it was Dez who leaped over the Packers’ secondary and made what could’ve been the number one play on SC Top 10, if the refs let the game be played the way it was meant to. Lest not forget that the refs initially ruled catch, because when you watch the play, it looks like a catch! It takes a microscope, zoomed in at its furthest to spot the tiny rule that the refs ended Dallas’ season with.
That being said, as John Harbaugh learned, rules are rules. The rule book does say that a player is not maintaining possession if, after physically catching the ball, the ball touches the ground on the player’s way down to the ground. So if we’re going by the book, this was not a catch, and a good call. It’s just a shame that that’s what we let dictate the NFL playoffs.
I knew the refs made the right call in the 2012 NBA Finals when the Heat actually defeated the Thunder in the series. The best team won, they were meant to. But in football, it’s one game, winner takes all and Green Bay certainly took it all. I’m not saying they didn’t deserve to win, because they fought and out scored the Cowboys in almost every major statistical category (yards: 425 to 315) and even a hobbled Aaron Rodgers was brilliant. The Pack are a great team, and very well may have deserved to win their game with Dallas. It’s just a shame fans couldn’t see it play out the way it was meant to.