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NFL owners approve simplified catch language

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By Associated Press

Maybe it’s too late for Jesse James and the Steelers or Zach Miller and the Bears.

No matter, the NFL has a simplified catch rule designed to eliminate confusion — and, the league hopes, controversy — about receptions.

Team owners unanimously approved the new language Tuesday, with basically three elements defining a catch:

—having control of the ball;

—getting two feet down or another body part;

—making a football move, such as taking a third step or extending the ball.

“We wanted to simplify and provide clarity,” Pittsburgh coach and longtime competition committee member Mike Tomlin said. “It was time to do so after we got caught up in language that didn’t do that. The language was obscure and confusing.”

The committee cited overturned receptions by tight ends James and Miller last season among the dozens of plays they reviewed “dozens of times,” according to committee chairman Rick McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons.

The James call was particularly impactful because the Steelers wound up losing to New England in a December game that determined home-field advantage for the playoffs. The Patriots got it and wound up in the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh lost its first postseason game to Jacksonville.


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