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Polian backs refs' no-TD call vs. Lions: 'Show me the ball'

  • By NFL.com
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Coach Jim Schwartz and his Detroit Lions believe Calvin Johnson made a game-winning touchdown catch against the Chicago Bears. Bill Polian begs to differ.

Polian, the NFL competition committee chairman and Indianapolis Colts president, said Wednesday on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access" that Johnson didn't complete the catch, therefore it's an incompletion.

"When a forward pass is thrown, there is no possession unless the play is completed, as opposed to a running back extending the ball over the goal line, he has possession," Polian explained. "A receiver doesn't have possession until the play is completed. Finally, in order for the official to officiate really tight plays -- the receiver rolls over and the official loses sight of the ball -- he has to know that the receiver has completed the play. And the coaching point that is given to receivers by both coaches and officials is, 'Show me the ball. Come up there with the ball. Show me you have the ball.' And in this case, unfortunately Calvin did not show him the ball.

"He let the ball hit the ground, therefore no possession, therefore no completion of the play, therefore no touchdown. Correct call."

Polian said there shouldn't be any confusion for those who understand the rule.

"The bottom line is you have to complete the play, you have to show the official that you completed it," he said. "The catch phrase is 'Show me the ball,' and that's the way we officiate it."

Late in Sunday's game against the Bears, Johnson leaped for a pass in the end zone and had two feet and one knee hit the ground before the ball inadvertently touched the ground and came loose. The pass was ruled incomplete and nullified a potential game-winning touchdown for Detroit, which lost 19-14.

Schwartz told WXYT-FM "everybody knows that it was a catch," but Polian said he doesn't see a need for the competition committee to review the rule.

"I for one don't see any difficulty with it, but certainly if other members or the league office wanted to revisit it, I'm sure we would," he said. "But we've done that in the past and we stayed with this particular rule.

"If (Johnson) had come up and shown him the ball, it's a touchdown and the game's over," Polian added. "It's unfortunate. I really feel badly for (Johnson), but that's the rule, and the officials got it right."

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