Sorry, Raiders Fans: Rule Book Backs Reversal of Louis Murphy TD

murphy 

By Nancy Gay- San Francisco Chronicle

Raiders fans always believe they’re being robbed by the officials. But when the league’s officiating crew in Oakland Monday night overturned Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy‘s 19-yard touchdown catch with 50 seconds remaining before halftime, they knew exactly where to find justification in the 2009 NFL Rule Book. 

Page 6. Rule 3. Section 2. Article 7. Note 1. That’s where the rules confirm that Murphy’s apparent touchdown reception was not a catch, because the rookie receiver did not have “firm grip and control of the ball” through the entirety of the reception while engaged with the San Diego Chargers‘ defender in the end zone.Here is how the entire Article 7 — which addresses player possession in this particular case — reads:

“A player is in possession when he is in firm grip and control of the ball inbounds. To gain possession of a loose ball that has been caught, intercepted or recovered, a player must have complete control of the ball and have both feet completely on the ground inbounds or any other part of his body, other than his hands, on the ground inbounds.

“If the player loses the ball while simultaneously touching both feet or any other part of his body to the ground or if there is any doubt that the acts were simultaneous, there is no possession. This rule applies to the field of play and in the end zone.”

Here is the exact explanation under Note 1 of this rule, which the NFL no doubt will cite on Wednesday after the Raiders send a letter of complaint to the NFL office in New York and vice president of officiating Mike Pereira:


“A player who goes to the ground in the process of attempting to secure possession of a loose ball (with or without contact by a defender) 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, there is no possession. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, it is a catch, interception or recovery.”

Short explanation —

— while Murphy was going to the ground with the defender while in the end zone, he had to maintain control of the ball. Since it came loose from his grasp before the ball hit the ground, the catch was ruled incomplete.

The ESPN Monday Night Football crew of Mike Golic, Mike Greenberg and Steve Young seemed confused by the rules of possession, with Golic and Greenberg vehemently contending that Murphy’s acrobatic reception had to be a catch because he had two feet down before the ball slipped from his fingers as he went to the ground.

Young, at first glance, mentioned the correct possession rule, then got caught up in the outrage that had overtaken the announcers’ box after the booth review reversed the original touchdown call.

When the second half started, it was clear someone from the NFL office had been in contact with the folks in Bristol — ESPN showed a previously unseen angle of the play in question that showed the ball completely falling from Murphy’s grasp once he got to the ground, and Golic even conceded he had spoken to the replay assistant at halftime. All three announcers clarified the rule and conceded Murphy did not maintain complete control of the football after he touched the ground.

Oakland settled for a Sebastian Janikowski field goal after the call reversal — and the four-point swing wound up being the difference in San Diego’s 24-20 win. Murphy, though, did eventually find the end zone for real, hauling in a JaMarcus Russell bomb late in the fourth quarter for his first NFL touchdown.

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~ by Sactown Raider Boosters on September 15, 2009.

9 Responses to “Sorry, Raiders Fans: Rule Book Backs Reversal of Louis Murphy TD”

  1. Aw shucks! In my opinion watching professional football since 1969, that was a touchdown! Louis Murphy caught the ball in the air. He clearly crossed that invisible goal line plane. His toes touched the end-zone on his way down to the turf. If it was called a non-touchdown, I could see it; but to over turn the call – I emphatically disagree. But what do I know? I wasn’t wearing those ugly red-stripped, throwbacks, officiating shirts. Please don the zebra outfit and no more throwback jerseys for the officials!

    Raiders fans – your consolation — at least the Raiders scored and almost pulled off an upset! They have got a pretty good team. They were hitting very hard. They played solid defense. And JaMarcus Russell, your six-foot-six, 260-pound quarterback, ran the offense, handed the ball off and threw the ball pretty good. He even was the lead blocker in a double-reverse – blocking two Charger players on that play. Regarding Russell’s height and weight – I betcha defensive coordinators and players around the league are thinking there should be a law against a QB towering that height and weighing that much. For example, Roger Staubach and Joe Montana, considered the physical model of quarterbacks back in the day, weighed 63 pounds less and were four inches shorter than Russell! Gees, I wouldn’t want to tackle Russell! You know what — I couldn’t tackle him!

    I think the Raiders are going to do well this year! Maybe I should become a citizen of the Raider Nation!

    🙂

  2. While shocking, and contrary to what we’ve all know as the rule since we can remember (two feet down, inbounds = reception), it was the correct call based on the new rule instituted last season. Even if the TD would have stood, the game would have ended in a tie and OT wouldn’t necessarily have ended in a Raider victory. Regardless, it was the correct call.

    I have to hand it to the Raiders. They came to play, were fired-up and had all the emotion throughout the game. The problem was conservative offensive play-calling and bad QB play that let the Chargers stay in the game till the end. As the Patriots proved hours earlier, you cannot let a good team stick around and expect to win in the end. I must go on record that I am changing my Raiders season prediction based on last night. Instead of being the AFC West cellar dwellers with a 3-13 record, I see the Raiders pushing for 2nd place in the division and ending at a mush more respectable 7-9 record. I think Raiders fans should be proud of last night’s game. They played their hearts out and look to be quite competitive.

  3. Just a few lines to let everyone know I enjoyed your comments. Regarding the new rule, the comment from the Chargers fan is quite right. Uunfortunately it seems like the Raiders are normally the first team to break new rules and the one that new rules are made for. Hopefully this game sets the tone for the rest of the Raiders season. As far as the Chargers, at times they didn’t look like a team with Super Bowl aspirations but had enough at the end and that’s when it counts.

  4. Keep in mind that the article above is by Nancy Gay who writes for the San Francisco Chronicle. (That has nothing to do with the rule, but it warrants keeping in mind from a contextual perspective. )

    As far as the rule goes, Murphy had possession of the ball with both toes in. Catch! I watched the ESPN highlight films afterwards looking for bobbling and it was not there. When the ball started to come out, it was after Murphy’s knees were on the ground and he was down and the play over.

    Apparently the booth referee’s interpretation of “possession” was different from that of the ref on the field and the majority of the MNF world. I am still not seeing “indisputable visual evidence” that Murphy was not in possession of the ball. There is always a degree of subjectivity and interpretation that goes into referee penalty calling. The ref’s interpretation of this rule must have been guided by the tuck rule standard.

    Despite all this, I LOVED being at the game and a part of the charged up atmosphere, fans and team. Now, only if our coach could incorporate the word “blitz” into his arsenal………………….

  5. L00KS LIKE THE NFL ARE STILLING G0ING T0 PUNISH THE RAIDERS WITH BAD CALLS, T0 ENSURE THEY L0SE AND WE L0SE 0UR FAITH IN RAIDER NATI0N..IF Y0U SAW THAT CATCH Y0U KN0W WHAT IM TRYING T0 SAY..IT WAS A TD..IM JUST A L0YAL RAIDER FAN TIRED 0F THIS BS.WE ARE RAIDER NATION AND WE SH0ULD V0ICE 0UT T0 THE NFL C0MMISSI0NER WE W0NT T0LERATE THIS BAD TREATMENT ANY L0NGER.Y0U WITH ME..A L0YAL RAIDER FAN 4 LIFE

    • I was watching the highlights of the games at the gym and saw the Raiders TD catch in slow mo. I thought to myself, “Yeah, he got that” and then the ref waved it off. I couldn’t believe it! I thought of my Raiders fan friends immediately after and thought “Geez, with calls like that it’ll be another twelve games before the Raidah’s beat the Chargers”. That my Raiders friends was a touchdown.

  6. You see that’s why I feel women should not be doing football. This Nancy Gay everytime (sic) she opens her mouth ……she has know (sic) concept about football ….

  7. The game was just an example that – as in every year – the Raiders have 2 opponents on the field – the opposing team and the NFL referees who make subjective calls – or don’t make calls (throwing the ball to avoid being sacked really is intentional grounding). The Rams experienced this difference in referee calls during the Rams/Patriots Super Bowl – so it’s not just Raiders fan conspiracy theory. Murphy had a touchdown – and I would bet – had that catch been made by the Chargers or any other team – it would have been a touchdown.

  8. Sorry to tell you guys, but being a Raider hater, that REVERSAL of a touchdown catch made me think “someone in Vegas is fixing this game.” If that wasn’t a catch, then nothing is. To reverse a call on the field there has to be some explanation as to why it is indisputable to do so. There is no “indisputable” evidence and none I could see at all. I continue to wonder whether officials are just beyond stupid or, more likely, if no disciplining is done then there is a back room gambling component.

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