PHOENIX, Ariz. - Dez Bryant's catch still isn't one, even under new language that could decide what constitutes a completion in the NFL.
After the Cowboys' season ended with Bryant appearing to make a fourth-down reception at the 1-yard line in a playoff game against the Packers before the play was ruled incomplete with the use of replay, the NFL's Competition Committee on Monday proposed a "tweak to the language" of one of its most hard-to-define rules.
Now a player must "clearly establish himself as a runner" while having control and both feet inbounds.
The cleaned-up language should remove confusion about whether lunging or stretching the ball forward is a football move or an act common to the game, which the rule previously stipulated.
"For years the requirement for a catch is control, both feet and after that the receiver had to have the ball long enough to perform a [football] act," vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said at the NFL owners' annual spring meetings. "It was that act common to the game, football move, that created some confusion."
"We spent a lot of time on it. I think it really clears things up," said Rams coach Jeff Fisher, a member of the committee. "If you're going to the ground, hang on to the ball. It's really pretty simple. To include if you become a runner, I think it really cleans things up for us. If you start talking about reaching the ball out, you invite a lot of gray area back into the interpretation."
The rule has been difficult for fans and players to grasp since the Lions' Calvin Johnson first brought it to light with a would-be touchdown against the Bears that was reversed in 2010. It became even more controversial after Bryant's play in January.
"We're not talking about a lot of plays over the course of the five seasons since the Calvin Johnson play," Blandino said. "This allows us to consistently officiate the rule."