The NFL has adjusted the catch rule


One of the biggest mysteries in the National Football League is understanding what is and is not a catch. The league owners voted to simplify the rule.

The NFL catch rule has plagued wide receivers for years, including Cincinnati Bengals players. All 32 owners voted to approve the simpler rule at the NFL league meetings in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday. This should bring a bit of relief to Bengals fans as they’ve been affected by the rule multiple times over the last couple of years.

Tight end Tyler Eifert fell victim to the catch rule back in 2015 on a fourth and goal play against the Baltimore Ravens. Eifert caught the pass and extended the ball over the goal line but when the ball hit the ground Eifert lost control of the football. The rule made it where you had to maintain control to the ground even though he caught it and extended it across the goal line.

Cincinnati ended up getting a victory due to an 80-yard final minutes drive led by quarterback Andy Dalton. While the play wasn’t enough to lose the game for the Bengals, it made it a lot harder to gain the victory. One game that could have been turned from a loss to a win was when wide receiver Tyler Boyd fell victim to the rule.

Boyd caught a pass over the middle reaching across the goal line as well while getting hit low. The ball ended up coming lose when he hit the ground and the call was incomplete even after taking two steps, turning, and reaching the ball across the goal line. The Bengals ended up settling for a field goal that drive losing the game to the New York Giants by a single point.

The new rule that was voted on by the owners means that the receiver must get two feet down, maintain control, and make a football move. A football move is a part that might seem still vague but extending the ball out will now count as a catch. Lewis talked about his thoughts on the rule and what it could bring in the future at the meetings.

“I thought the language they came up with was very good,” Lewis said. “It’s still going to be some objectiveness to it. There is going to be more catches and there is going to be more fumbles. The subjectivity of it may be defined and cut down a little bit.”

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While there will surely be some tweaking to the rule going forward as well, it’s nice to know that the catch rule is moving in the right direction. There will be less fighting over what is and isn’t a catch on Sunday’s as no one really knew what was anymore.