Of course, the catch (pun intended) is that technically, the call was correct. The NFL rule states:
If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.
But even if the call was correct, it still wasn’t right. Anybody who watched the play knew that Calvin Johnson caught that ball. Even if the letter of the law said it was a drop, common sense tells us it was a catch. We just know it.
I wonder what Antonin Scalia would have thought? Should the refs be strict constructionists and call the game by the letter of the law? Should the NFL add even more caveats and conditions to specify exactly what a catch looks like? Or should the rules be simplified and refs given the freedom to make judgment calls when common sense dictates?
I think we need a little referee activism.
Please somebody ban the phrase "judicial activism"