Calvin Johnson Touchdown Erased on Controversial Call
After the Bears took a 19-14 lead with 1:32 left in the fourth, the Lions marched into Chicago territory. On second-and-10 from Chicago's 25, Lions backup QB Shaun Hill -- who had replaced an injured Matthew Stafford at halftime -- lofted a pass to the back left corner of the end zone. Johnson leaped up for a catch, fell to the ground, then lost control of the ball when he put his hand down.
The referee closest to the play initially ruled it a touchdown, but it was reversed and called incomplete. A lengthy replay upheld that decision.
"I figured I got two feet and a knee down before I dropped the ball on the ground," Johnson said. "I didn't drop the ball, I caught it. But it is what it is. I'm not going to blame the referees. You've got to move on."
"It was a tough play, a real tough play," said Bears defensive back Zack Bowman, who was defending Johnson on the play. "I knew it was going to be a jump ball. I was just trying to get in position to catch it or knock the ball out. It was a tough call. Hey, it went our way. I'm not complaining."
Hill then threw two incomplete passes into the end zone on third and fourth down to seal a Chicago victory. But it was Johnson's non-catch that played the biggest role in giving the Bears a win.
"The rule is if you are going to the ground in the process of making the catch, you need to finish with the football," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "And we didn't finish with the football."
Said Bears head coach Lovie Smith: "I saw it exactly the way [the referee] did. Didn't really think they had to look at the replay. The rule says you have to come down and complete the catch all the way through. The ball came out at the end, so I thought it was pretty cut-and-dry."
According to Rule 8, Section 1, Article 4 of the NFL's rulebook, a player that falls to the ground in the process of making a catch must secure the ball through the entire time he is falling.
Former head of NFL officiating Mike Pereira said on FOX's game broadcast that the play should be ruled incomplete. He went into greater detail on Foxsports.com: "A play from start to finish is a process. When you go to the ground, even after you've caught the ball, you have to maintain possession. ... The onus is on the receiver to hold onto the ball even after he hits the ground."