They Got “The Spirit Of The Law All Wrong

Right call, wrong touch. It’s about the only way to describe what happened to Jermaine Gresham on that TD catch that was called back Sunday in Baltimore, an might have cost the Bengals a win.

You’ve probably seen the video by now. Gresham bobbles a toss by Andy Dalton, stumbles into the end zone, seems to have possession of the ball, but as he goes to the ground ball in hand first, Gresham is ruled to have lost possession of the ball when it hits the ground.

In other words, Gresham got done in by the “Calvin Johnson Rule”, so named for the first NFL player to by bitten by this.

Item 1: Player Going to the Ground. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he 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, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.

The rule reads:
Item 1: Player Going to the Ground. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he 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, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.

The problem is, the rule as written leaves far too my leeway for game officials interpretation. Even Marvin Lewis, a veteran of the NFL’s Competition Committee was unsure of the exact implementation of the rule. It’s too simple to say that Gresham should have brought the ball into his chest, made a clean catch and all of this would have been avoided. He’s supposed to be able to run full speed, pull in a bobbled ball, get both feet in bounds with a 195 pound defensive back flailing away at his body and have the presence of mind to bring the ball into his chest? All in the span of about a half-second? Tough task.

The refereee and his replay official most probably got the rule interpreted to what they believed is the rule of law. But they failed to take into acccount the spirit of the law. Even the guy who used to be in charge of game day officials, Mike Perreira now with Fox Sports, says it should have been a touchdown. It cost the Bengals a chance at a win. Let’s hope it doesn’t eventually cost the Bengals a chance at making the post season playoffs.

In a college football Saturday unlike any other other, the University of Cincinnati Bearcats laid an egg. In fact, was Saturday the worst day for a UC fan since Brian Kelly took a walk….maybe since Bob Huggins was canned.

You can count on one hand the impact wins that Rutgers has has since Greg Schiano took over as head football coach. Actually, you could count ’em on one finger: yesterday’s win over UC The UC offense looked out of sync. It’s defense looked gassed by the middle of the third quarter. Munchie Legaux may eventually become a decent Division I quarterback. But he’s not there yet. And that’s a real problem for UC. Because unless he figures it out in a hurry, like say by Thursday, you won’t see the Bearcats in any January 2nd bowl game.

That was bad enough. What followed next at Fifth Third Arena was beyond description. Mick Cronin’s team lost to Presbyterian. I actually had to double check the schedule to make sure this wasn’t some church team from Anderson Township.

This is the problem playing so many non-descript teams: players don’t get ‘up’ for these games. You’re right they should. But they don’t. Not just here, everywhere. That’s why you have Lemoyne beating Syracuse a few years ago, why NKU went to West Virginia and knocked off the Mountaineers and why the Bearcats were embarrassed Saturday.

I asked Yancy Gates last week about this. I asked him, about Kentucky playing Kansas and Ohio State playing Florida and wondered if he’d rather be playing these ‘name’ schools rather than the line up of nobodies that UC has scheduled. He freely admitted he would. This was in the wake of another lethargic effort by UC, in a win over Alabama State. Gates admitted getting up to play these schools you couldn’t find with Rand McNally at your side is a difficult thing.

I know why Cronin and UC’s athletic director schedules these teams. It’s because when it’s time to Big East Conference games, it’s a bare knuckle brawl almost every night. You have to have breathers early, confidence building wins, heck, just wins to get your total win number into the 20’s. But you have to also have to bring the same kind of intensity to a game against Presbyterian as you do when the opponent is Georgetown. Cronin openly admitted last week that the great teams have players who play that way every single possession. UC didn’t Saturday, and suffered one of the more humiliating defeats in school history. There’s no other way to describe it. Top 25 team? Not for awhile now.

This blog may not be reproduced, retransmitted or repurposed in any manner, in whole or in part, without the written permission of Ken Broo

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About kenbroo

Multiple EMMY Award Winning Sports Director At Cincinnati's WLWT News 5 and Sports Talk Host At 700 WLW
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