The Fumble/Non-Fumble

December 26th, 2016


What may have been the play of the game wasn’t made by a member of the Saints or Bucs, but instead by a replay official.

This nonsense in the NFL about what is and isn’t a catch continues with the botched call against the Bucs Saturday.

With 1:52 left in the third quarter and the Saints clinging to a 28-21 lead, Saints quarterback Drew Brees hit tight end Coby Fleener for a four-yard gain to the left side. However, as Fleener was tucking the ball in and starting to head up field, he was blasted by Bucs middle linebacker Kwon Alexander. The ball popped loose and DaVonte Lambert pounced on it.

Every turnover in the NFL is reviewed by the replay zebras, and the NFL has tinkered with the catch rule so friggin’ much over the years, no one knows what the hell a catch is any more.

Sure enough, the call was overturned. Rather than the Bucs having the ball at the New Orleans-29 in prime position to tie the game, the Saints kept the ball.

On replay, it sure as hell looked like a fumble. But even Bucs corner Alterraun Verner told Joe he knew there was a strong chance the fumble would be reversed.

“Obviously, we wanted a fumble,” Verner said. “We believed it was a fumble. [The NFL has] been reviewing the catch rule for the past few years. I am not shocked they overturned it. So I wouldn’t say we got robbed.”

While the play was demoralizing for fans, Verner was adamant the sting of the reversal did not zap the defense of any motivation.

“I don’t think the defense lost any fight,” Verner said. “I don’t think that is the character of the defense that we have. I think that we fought to the bitter end. I don’t think that took the wind out of our sails.”

Joe was talking with a Saints beat writer while returning to the press box from the locker rooms. He had told Joe he was absolutely certain the play was a fumble and would have bet a month’s salary on it. But his editor, sitting next to him, cautioned that since the catch rule is still unknown and cloudy, it would be a 50/50 shot the fumble would be reversed.

We all saw what happened.

35 Responses to “The Fumble/Non-Fumble”

  1. Patrick in VA Says:

    I had a similar feeling as the Saints editor. It looked like a fumble. I thought it was a fumble. But I knew that there was a good chance that it wasn’t clear enough to be determined a fumble.

    What’s most baffling about it, though, is that it was called a fumble on the field. So that means that there had to be clear proof in the video that justified the call being overturned. I’m not sure what that indisputable proof was.

  2. LakeLandBuc Says:

    It wasn’t a catch, so how can it be a fumble?

  3. LakeLandBuc Says:

    It was clearly a non-catch, no doubt about it.

  4. Patrick in VA Says:

    It was clearly a non-catch? Can you help me out a little and tell me what made it a non-catch?

  5. LakeLandBuc Says:

    I gotta give you props Joe, you’re a hardworking dude to come up all of these topics for discussion.

  6. jj Says:

    Clear fumble IMO, the NFL needs to scrap all this BS language in the rule and just use their eyes. He clearly has control of the ball with 2 feet down, if it was in the end zone, it would have been ruled a TD no doubt in my mind.

  7. LakeLandBuc Says:

    A player have to maintain control of the ball , until he has the ball long enough to clearly become a runner. A player has to have the ball long enough to become a runner when, after his second foot is on the ground.

  8. tmaxcon Says:

    i thought it became a catch when he tucked the ball and made the turn up field. he clearly turned his body up field does he have to take a certain number of steps. I thought the tuck and turn made it a fumble regardless of forward progress.

  9. Patrick in VA Says:

    So, him establishing clear control of the ball, tucking it, and turning upfield to run toward the endzone didn’t check all of those boxes?

  10. Jason Says:

    Same, there is no way there was anything close to indisputable proof. I would understand if it was ruled an incomplete catch on the field, but to overturn the fumble?? No freaking way.

  11. Jason Says:

    Patrick, you said it right. He caught it, took two steps and turned upfield…. By the rule that is a catch. And then the subsequent fumble

  12. ClodHopper Says:

    It certainly would have been a fumble back when everyone knew what a catch was. As far as that rule goes, they kept fixing it until they finally broke it.

  13. tmaxcon Says:

    ^^^^^^ i like that

  14. JimBo Says:

    No catch. I never understand why this is debated anymore? Unless the receiver is heading up field they are always going to rule ‘incomplete’.

    Every year the team on the short end of the stick feels like they ‘took it up the poop-chute’.

  15. tnew Says:

    My argument is the same as the rest. While it would be hard to justify saying that it was a catch, the fact is the referees made a judgement call on the field that the receiver had done enough to catch the ball and become a runner. There MUST have been incontrovertible proof that the ball had not been controlled. That is a tough sell to me. I think at very least that it was a debatable. This is the mechanism in place by the NFL. It feels like this protocol was not followed in this case. Its almost as if the replay official didn’t know what the call on the field was. Being said, in live action, I doubted it was a catch/fumble. I saw it as an incomplete pass. When I saw it in slow mo, I could’ve been talked into either decision, so I was suprised with a reversal.

  16. JMN Says:

    Fleener caught the ball, tucked it, made a slight turn and was about to take his first step on the run. Sure as heck looked like a catch to me.

  17. Fire the glazers Says:

    Anyone who agrees with that call is either blind or a FUDGING moron. Not the reason the good guys lost, but definitely could have helped us out.

  18. Eric Says:

    No football move before he lost control so no catch.

    We blew the game with the mindnumbing botch of the second half kick off.

  19. Squadoosh Says:

    It looked like two feet down and a turn upfield. It happened very fast but I have to say Pereirra said it wasnt a catch before they finished replaying it and that dude is almost always right.

  20. buccfan305 Says:

    Bert Emanuel all over again….

  21. Erik w/ Clean Athletics 'The Kwon Alexander of Bucs Fans' Says:

    It was clearly a catch and we got robbed and it cost us the game.

    He pulled the ball down, shuffled his feet and pivoted up field (a football move), then got rocked by Kwon.

  22. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Everyone is clearly missing it…….It is clearly a fumble if it is a Buc receiver…..and an incomplete pass if it is a Buc opponent.
    The calls against us vs the calls that fall in our favor is staggering.

  23. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Both feet hit the ground and he had control. The problem is this…the rulebook says he has to take a step.

    Apparently, there is a double standard along the sideline.

  24. BuccaneEric75 Says:

    He got hit after the 2nd step. No catch. He never made a move upfield. Bang/bang play. He didn’t have the ball long enough.

  25. Warren Says:

    Absolutely clear. If a guy has time to turn upfield post catch it’s as clear as freaking day. What evidence can they point to as irrefutable to reverse it? Clear homerism

  26. Pickgrin Says:

    Certainly not enough shown on replay to overturn the call of fumble on the field…

    The subjectivity of all these judgement calls is what frustrates NFL fans the most and makes many question the integrity of the NFL as a whole…

  27. BuccaneEric75 Says:

    He never had time to make a turn upfield. Now, if he caught the ball the same way, with NOBODY around him, got 2 feet down and stood there for 2 seconds and didn’t move, and got popped and the ball came out, then that is a catch/fumble because he established possession with the amount of time he had the ball. It happened to fast and he never took a third step or even got his body facing our end zone, he was still facing Brees.

  28. BuccaneEric75 Says:

    It’s just like the 2 feet toe tap on the side line. Just the 2 feet down isn’t enough. The receiver has to hold on to the ball and still have it after he hits the ground.

  29. Rod Munch Says:

    2 feet + football move = catch and then fumble, PLUS if it was even questionable the play stands as called on the field. There was nothing in that replay to OVERTURN the call on the field, it had to be clearly the wrong call without any dispute for it NOT to be a fumble.

    But hey the Packers and the Bucs might be in that tie for the wildcard spot so we know how this goes, just as it went in 2010 when the refs gave a BS offensive PI call in the 4th quarter, in the endzone against Detroit. The NFL then later that week sent the Bucs a “oops, that was the wrong call, sorry about costing you the win, the playoff spot and putting the Packers in the playoffs instead of you.”

    I look forward to the little side story on Wednesday saying the Bucs got a letter from the NFL saying the call was wrong as it shouldn’t have been overturned. Oh and sorry about costing you that wildcard spot and making sure the Packers get in. i’m sure it’s just coincidence.

  30. ATLBucsFan Says:

    Alexander should have checked with the ref to confirm it was a catch before he smacked the crap out of the receiver. Oh, sorry, that’s a leak of the change in the catch rule for next year!

  31. BuccaneEric75 Says:

    Munch, there was NO football move. 2 feet down then the hit. I don’t understand why this is even an issue. Sucks for us, but a good reversal nonetheless. A lot of times, the refs will make the call as a turnover so that it can be automatically reviewed. It was a good call.

  32. cmurda Says:

    A catch means that the player must control the ball and make a football move unless said catch results in a fumble which goes the Bucs way. At that point, the rule states the player must possess the ball with clear control, cross the goal line, and point to the crowd. Any fumble in between will be ruled an incomplete pass.

  33. yrbndr Says:

    With all the banter… In my eyes he caught the ball two feet down turned his shoulders demonstrating a move… are you kidding me?

  34. Bonus cake Says:

    Question: let’s say there are no defensive players in the field. Would Fleener have held onto the ball and ran with it? No doubt in my mind he would have. That’s a catch and I don’t need 30 step process to determine if that is a catch or not. Clear as day.

  35. KY Buc Fan Says:

    All of this sounds like BS to me! He clearly caught the ball out in front of him and had enough time to tuck it and start making his turn toward the end zone! Don’t know about you all but when you catch the ball out in front of you and tuck it that is considered a catch and possession! When receiver runs a hook route to move past the 1st down marker, Catches the ball but is tackled immediately ITS still a first down long as he holds on rt!? If Kwon is not there that is a big gain play, but we were basically screwed out of our defender being in good position to cause a TO once the receiver was attempting to make his move????? Again BS!!!!