Eli Manning knows all about catches, tallying over 4,000 completions. On Monday, he offered his thoughts about football’s ultimate question.
There’s one question on everyone’s minds this holiday season: What is a catch?
The NFL’s catch argument, perpetuated by famous controversial calls against players like Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant, has reentered the national spotlight after yesterday’s highly anticipated showdown between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots. In the dying minute, Steelers tight end Jesse James appeared to score a 10-yard touchdown to put them ahead 30-27, but a lengthy replay review determined that James lost control of the ball, even after getting it over the goal line with the ball in his hands.
Two plays later, New England intercepted another would-be game-winner, earning a 27-24 victory in a game that likely determined who would earn home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning knows a thing or two about catches, having tallied 4,387 completions throughout his NFL career, good for sixth in NFL history. The long-time Giants quarterback did his best to help reporters figure out what a catch is when they gathered around his locker on Monday afternoon, having witnessed the ending of the Steelers-Patriots showdown.
The youngest Manning brother, who threw for a season-high 434 yards in Sunday’s 34-29 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, agreed with the revised ruling.
“I had a feeling they were going to overturn that,” Manning said. “When you’re watching it live, you don’t even think about it not being a catch. But when you go to the ground, you got to finish with the ball in your hand. When it hits the ground and there’s movement, there’s enough evidence to reverse that. It is what it is.”
Per Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3 of the official NFL Rulebook, a receiver must control the pass, get both feet or a non-hands body part in bounds, and maintain control of the ball long enough to become a runner.
Manning said he believes it’s “clear” what a catch is.
“Especially when you’re going to the ground, you got to control the ball the whole time,” he explained, later adding that “Coaches talk about it, players talk about it. It’s understanding (that) if you’re going to the ground, finish the catch. Don’t drop it and celebrate too early, don’t assume anything. You got to finish the play.”
The Giants are no strangers to catch controversies. In November 2015, also against New England, Odell Beckham Jr. appeared to score a go-ahead touchdown that would’ve put the Giants ahead 29-24 just before the two-minute warning, having secured the ball and getting both feet down in the end zone before Patriots defender Malcolm Butler swiped the ball from his grasp. Though originally ruled a touchdown, the pass was labeled incomplete after a review. Though the Giants earned a field goal to take the lead, New England drove down the field to earn one of their own, taking a 27-26 decision.
Earlier this season in Philadelphia, Sterling Shepard appeared to have a score that would’ve knotted the game up just before halftime, securing the ball and getting three feet in bounds before losing it when he fell out of the field of play. As you know by now, the pass was ruled incomplete.
“Sterling caught it, had two feet in bounds, ball comes out, it’s going to be an incompletion,” Manning recalled from the September visit. “If the ball hits the ground when you’re going to the ground, if the ball moves or hits the ground and there’s a little loss of contact through the end of the play, it’s going to be an incompletion.”
As if to almost demonstrate this point, Manning accidentally dropped his cell phone near the end of his conversation, which he jokingly ruled incomplete.
Manning will look to put the rule into action this Sunday afternoon, as the Giants hit the road for the final time this season against the Arizona Cardinals (4:25 PM, FOX). With the game’s Christmas Eve scheduling, Manning is looking to give his team and the fans some holiday cheer.
“I’ve obviously had some good memories there,” said Manning, referring to the Giants’ Super Bowl XLII win at University of Phoenix Stadium. “But (we’re) just (trying) to go out there and see if we can get a little early Christmas present and get a win.”