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Burleson's TD catch brings 'Calvin Johnson Rule' back in focus

  • By Dan Hanzus
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Is it possible the Lions could be done in by the "Calvin Johnson Rule" for the second consecutive year?

It initially looked that way Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, when Matthew Stafford appeared to connect with Nate Burleson on a 5-yard touchdown pass with 13:53 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Officials waived off the catch, however, saying Burleson didn't maintain possession all the way through the play. Burelson back peddled out of the end zone before falling to the ground, at which point the ball dislodged from his right hand.

The officials were using the same logic that burned Johnson in Week 1 last season against the Chicago Bears. The notoriety of the play led to it becoming known as the "Calvin Johnson Rule."

But common sense prevailed Sunday as the call was reversed upstairs, awarding Burleson the TD catch to give Detroit a short-lived lead. The Lions ultimately lost, 25-19, suffering their first defeat of the season.

Officials got the call right, which is the most important thing, but the disconnect between field referees and the replay booth shows how convoluted this crevice of the rule book really is. But we'll leave those matters to the competition committee.


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