GREEN BAY, Wisconsin (Reuters) - Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant was left in disbelief after officials overturned his superb catch late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.
A week after benefiting from a highly debatable call in their wildcard win over the Detroit Lions, the Cowboys got a taste of the other side of tough decisions that have to be made.
On fourth down and two yards to go for a first down, Bryant rose spectacularly to catch a 31-yard pass from Tony Romo and move the Cowboys to the one-yard line.
But Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, having seen replays on the stadium’s giant screen, threw a challenge flag and after reviewing the play officials reversed the decision.
With the pass ruled incomplete, the Packers got the ball on their 33-yard line and closed out the win.
“I want to know why it wasn’t a catch?” Bryant said to reporters.
Asked if he had any fear that he had not held onto the ball while completing the play, Bryant said: ”Not even a thought, not even a thought. I knew we were in a position to take the lead. That is all I knew.
“I had possession and I had possession of the ball coming down. That’s possession right?”
NFL rules state a player must maintain control of the ball “throughout the process of contacting the ground” and add that “if the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete”.
Having grasped the ball, Bryant reached out toward the end zone, attempting a touchdown, and it was during that movement that the ball briefly squirted out of his hands.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett disagreed with the decision.
“Dez reached out for the goal line, which he has done many times. It is a signature play for him. He maintained possession of it throughout, in my opinion,” Garrett said.
Dallas owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he thought it was a catch even if he accepted his team’s fate.
”I do think he made it yes. And we had the opportunity to look at several (replay) angles up there where we were sitting.
“Certainly we had the call last week in our game with Detroit...so we’ve had a lot of re-looks at things around the league and sometimes they go for you and sometimes they don‘t”.
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Gene Cherry