Eli Manning appeared to have connected with Odell Beckham Jr. in the left end zone late in the 4th quarter of Sunday afternoon’s game against the undefeated Patriots, a play that for Giants fans brought instantly to mind Plaxico Burress’s Super Bowl 42 game-winner — until it was ruled incomplete.
Exactly as Beckham’s feet touched down in the end zone, Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (also of Super Bowl fame) recovered on the play to strip the ball out of Beckham’s hands.
The bang-bang play had one ref wave for an incomplete pass while the other signalled for a touchdown. The refs conferred and signal for a touchdown, but after the mandatory review they ruled that the pass was incomplete.
Here’s the play:
And from a better angle:
Since Dez Bryant’s famous non-catch during the playoffs last season, we’ve seen equally perplexing plays that refs have ruled incomplete passes because of the NFL’s definition of a catch.
The rule, as it stands now, states that the receiver must become a runner in order for a catch to stand; similarly, in the end zone the receiver must become a runner before the “breaking the plane” rule comes into effect. In other words, simply being in the end zone with the ball in the receiver’s hand, and both feet on the ground, is no longer enough to be a touchdown.
Under those definitions, then, Beckham did not become a runner and so Butler’s strip, despite coming after both of Beckham’s feet had landed in bounds while the ball was secured, rendered the pass incomplete.
Beckham believed he caught the ball and that his touchdown should have stood.
“I mean, I caught it,” Beckham said afterwards. “I trust in my hands. I go up and catch it. You come down with two feet. You can’t try to do anything too early. You got to keep [with] the whole process. It didn’t go the way we wanted [it] to.”
But he did consent to the fact that if he’d simply held onto the ball, the game likely would have turned out differently and everyone would be spared the rigmarole of what defines a catch wouldn’t be necessary.
“I lost us the game,” Beckham said. “The play down in the end zone, the play should have been made. You can’t leave it up to the officials to get anything right. You just got to make the play itself.”
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