After further review, Jennings catch not a TD and here's why

There has been much discussion about Jennings catch as to whether or not it was a completion, and therefore a TD.  When I saw it, I thought it was b/c he had control and two feet in, doesn't matter after that.  After looking into it, I now know I didn't know and understand the actual rules.  The rule has changed and is a little confusing. 

First off, let's clear up what the rule is that applies here.  The "football move" verbiage was removed a couple years (2007)  ago and replaced with the "maintain possession throughout contact with the ground" or going to the ground clause. 

The interpretation is this:  possession is established in the field, sideline, or endzone with control of the ball and two feet (or other body part except hands) down.  If the player is contacted by a defender before both feet come down, then the going to the ground note is invoked.  That says he must maintain control of the ball before, during, and after contacting the ground. 

I still cannot find video of the catch, but a few photos (see below fold) I have seen show Tillman in contact, and I think it is safe to say he was before both Jennings' feet came down.  If that is the case, then Jennings would have had to remain control all the way to the ground and after contacting it. (he did not)  Note:  it does not matter that he was not going to the ground during the catch, only that he was contacted before both feet were down.  That contact is what made control of the ball necessary all the way down.

Mark Pereira, the NFL VP of Officiating explains it very well here about a TB receiver in week 10:  Video here

Also, watch the next item he discusses involving the GB/Dallas game.  MM got away with one there.

There you go - No Catch.  Who cares, we won and the Bears still suck!

This is how the rule actually reads:

"A player is in possession when he is in firm grip and control of the ball inbounds. To gain possession of a loose ball that has been caught, intercepted or recovered, a player must have complete control of the ball and have both feet completely on the ground inbounds or any other part of his body, other than his hands, on the ground inbounds. If the player loses the ball while simultaneously touching both feet or any other part of his body to the ground or if there is any doubt that the acts were simultaneous, there is no possession. This rule applies to the field of play and in the end zone."

 Note 1, going to the ground clause:

 "A player who goes to the ground in the process of attempting to secure possession of a loose ball [with or without contact by a defender] must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, there is no possession. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, it is a catch, interception or recovery."

Also, the force-out rule was removed in 2008, to clear up one remaining question that was raised.

Jennings pic

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