What Makes A Catch?

The Ravens lost a potential fumble when a ruling on the field was overturned.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Monday, December 5th, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

The Ravens seemed to have recovered a fumble in the second quarter Sunday in Cleveland.

But not so fast.

For the second time in three games, a ruling of a catch was overturned. This time, it went against the Ravens and considering that they were leading just 7-0 at the time, it could have been big.

It begs the question, what’s a catch?

Wide receiver Jordan Norwood caught a short pass across the middle and the ball came out (it’s difficult to tell whether cornerback Danny Gorrer punched it out or not) after Norwood clearly had the ball and started moving with it. Ed Reed recovered the ball at the Baltimore 41-yard line.

But Cleveland challenged the play and it was explained that Norwood did not possess the ball long enough before it came loose to institute a catch. It was ruled an incomplete pass and the Browns punted.

Head Coach John Harbaugh thought the call on the field of a fumble was going to be upheld.

“We felt he took, you could say three steps, but at least two steps if there was a bobble in a football act,” Harbaugh said on Monday.

“[Referee] Ed [Hochuli] disagreed with that when he overturned it. He explained why. He was great. He explained exactly why. He’s one of the better communicators, so we understood his reasoning on it.”

The rule on a completed pass states the player must maintain control of the ball long enough to enable him to perform any act common to the game (i.e., maintaining control long enough to pitch it, pass it, advance with it, or avoid or ward off an opponent, etc.). It is not necessary that he commit such an act, just that he maintains control of the ball long enough to do so.

The Ravens have had a similar ruling go their way this season, however.

Against the Bengals, a late Jermaine Gresham touchdown was overruled after it was determined that Gresham did not maintain control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground. Thus, it was determined that he had not already made the catch before going down.

Baltimore also had a fourth-quarter reversal in Cleveland go their way, although not on whether there was a catch or not. Running back Ricky Williams was originally ruled to have fumbled, which was recovered by the Browns. After review, it was determined that Williams’ “backside” was down before the ball came out.

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