Seattle Seahawks

Doug Baldwin, paid to catch passes, doesn’t know exactly what a catch is by NFL rules

We think this is a catch. At least that’s what officials ruled for Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin as he stretched for the end zone but stepped out of bounds during the second half of Seattle’s win over Philadelphia Dec. 3. Good thing he didn’t have to “survive the ground.”
We think this is a catch. At least that’s what officials ruled for Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin as he stretched for the end zone but stepped out of bounds during the second half of Seattle’s win over Philadelphia Dec. 3. Good thing he didn’t have to “survive the ground.” drew.perine@thenewstribune.com

RENTON Doug Baldwin makes his living catching passes.

They are why he got a scholarship to Stanford. Why he carved out an NFL career then got a $46 million contract extension from the Seahawks. He shares the franchise record with 94 of them in a single season.

So of course he knows what a catch is.

“Oh, you mean, as it pertains to the NFL rules?” Baldwin said Wednesday.

“No, I don’t.”

Join the club.

Last weekend Jimmy Graham brought a Russell Wilson pass into his hands and arms. He ran for a couple steps with the ball. Then he dropped it for what sure looked like a fumble. Replay review turned it into an incomplete pass early in Seattle’s blowout loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

But that was nothing compared to what happened a couple hours later in Pittsburgh last Sunday.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jesse James with 28 seconds remaining to give Pittsburgh the lead, seconds after New England had taken it.

As the Steelers lined up for the extra point, replay reviewers back in league headquarters halted play. What looked like a game-winning catch for home-field advantage to Pittsburgh in the AFC playoffs became an incomplete pass that left many around the country--including CBS’ Jim Nantz and Tony Romo commentating on the nationally televised game in the broadcast booth--gasping and amazed. The Patriots won the game. They have the inside track to the AFC’s top seed instead.

Referee Tony Corrente announced on the field that James “did not survive the ground.”

Let’s all hope on our day of reckoning we find the ability to “survive the ground.”

That’s the same reasoning referee Gene Steratore gave in the 2014 playoffs at Green Bay to take away a touchdown from Dallas’ Dez Bryant that nearly everyone who knows a football isn’t round thought was a catch and a touchdowns.

Baldwin and the Seahawks play Bryant and the Cowboys Sunday in Arlington, Texas.

“Yes, it can be left up to interpretation,” Baldwin said of a catch in the NFL. “However, as a receiver, as somebody who has played football since I was 6 years old, you kind of see the same things over and over again and recognize what is a catch, what’s not a catch, right?”

Well, in the NFL, not necessarily. Its the only league in the sport where James’ grab across the goal line isn’t a touchdown, where Graham’s play isn’t a fumble.

“I’d like to say that my opinion is validated by years and years of experience and exposure to it,” Baldwin said. “But at the same time, when you have these rules that come out that maybe say something different, then you have to question it.”

Baldwin did say that he has no problem with what some pointed out after the James play/incompletion in Pittsburgh is a double standard. Ball carriers on running plays merely need to possess the ball to the plane of the goal line for a score. There is no consideration of the ball’s movement as it hits the ground or anything else after the plane of the goal line. Baldwin said a catch is a different act and thus should have a different standard to completion.

Not that his opinion matters in a league that has its own, unique way of defining a catch. When one of the more prominent receivers whose job it is to make those catches doesn’t really know when one may or may not be legal, it’s time to change and simplify the rule.

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