New England Patriots

Imagine how differently Super Bowl LII could’ve ended if at least one of the two questionable Philadelphia Eagles’ touchdowns weren’t ‘legislated on the fly.’

Lets think about it for a second here:

  1. If the league didn’t “legislate” calls on the fly,
  2. Had clear cut rules in place at the time,
  3. And if just one of those touchdowns was called incomplete, the outcome of the game could’ve been totally different for both the New England Patriots and the Eagles.

With the new clarity surrounding the “catch rule,” we now know moving forward that all it boils down to these three components when it comes to determining a ruling on a “catch,” according to the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, Al Riveron.

Riveron tweeted out a video more than a week ago showing plays that were being reviewed by the NFL’s Competition Committee during the updating of “catch rule.”

[Note: this video includes both the Jesse James “touchdown” catch against the Patriots that was overturned and called incomplete on the Pittsburg Steelers. And the Corey Clement’s touchdown catch in Super Bowl LII, which was upheld for a touchdown.)

RELATED: NFL Unanimously Approves New Catch Rules

But on Tuesday afternoon we learned that the new “catch rule” was implemented months before it was passed, particularly during Super Bowl LII.

During an episode of ESPN’s ‘NFL Live,’ Riveron told Chris Mortensen “that the Corey Clement and Zach Ertz “catches” in the Super Bowl were ruled “differently” than they were during the regular season.”

“I will still maintain … that we saw this rule in action during the Super Bowl when the Eagles played the Patriots,” Mortensen said during the show, via NESN‘s Zack Cox.

Sal Paolantonio added some alarming insight to the conversation after referencing a chat he had with Riveron on Monday following a press conference.

“It was pretty clear to me that it was already in place when they ruled on the Zach Ertz catch for the touchdown and the Corey Clement catch for a touchdown,” said Paolantonio.

Paolantonio continued on saying that, “When (Riveron) had those conversations, he was in New York, with Troy Vincent [Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the NFL] sitting next to him, with Gene Steratore, the referee on the field. They were having that conversation, and they were basically legislating on the fly during the Super Bowl. And now, we’ve seen it enacted unanimously by the owners.”

So under the new “catch rule,”  this week 15 play in Pittsburg during the Patriots and Steelers game…

(0:28 – 4th) (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger pass short middle to J.James for 10 yards, TOUCHDOWN. The Replay Official reviewed the pass completion ruling, and the play was REVERSED. (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger pass incomplete short middle to J.James.

…would’ve been ruled a catch, according to Riveron.

If that James play had not been called incomplete but a touchdown, the outcome of that game would’ve been drastically different just like the Super Bowl’s could’ve been too, had the officiating not been done on the fly or new rules being implemented before being ratified by the league and its owners.

Lets just hope the NFL sets and maintains a clear and transparent ruling system when it comes to catches made in 2018.

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— By John ‘The Dude’ Hardiman,

John Hardiman is a Digital Producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for John? Hit him up on Twitter @HardiDude or e-mail him at