Cary Williams had faith in "Calvin Johnson" rule

Ravens cornerback remembered play from Lions' 2010 season opener

November 21, 2011|By Edward Lee

Ravens cornerback Cary Williams said he had faith that the “Calvin Johnson” rule would bail him out.

Despite the initial ruling of a 9-yard touchdown grab by Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham, Williams said he felt fairly certain that the touchdown would be overturned after Gresham lost possession of the football after Williams tackled him.

“He did a good job of catching it,” Williams said. “It was what it was, but I knew that from the Detroit play, they couldn’t give it to him because he didn’t have control going all the way to the ground. It really could’ve [gone] either way.”

The Ravens were the beneficiaries of a rule carved out almost 15 months ago.

In the 2010 season opener for the Detroit Lions, what appeared to be a game-winning touchdown catch by Johnson was overturned when officials ruled that the wide receiver did not control the ball to the ground.

Late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s contest against the Ravens, Gresham caught a juggling pass and crossed the goal line with both feet in-bounds, but when he was tackled to the turf by Williams, Gresham placed the ball on the ground and lost possession of it. That, according to referee Ron Winter, made the catch an incompletion.

“When the receiver went to the ground, he had the ball in his right hand, the ball touched the ground, and his hand came off the ball by about [an inch], and he then re-grasped it and brought it in,” Winter told a pool reporter after the game.

When asked if it mattered when Gresham crossed the goal line, Winter replied, “When he’s going to the ground, he has to maintain control of the ball throughout the process of the catch. So when he goes to the ground, he can’t have the ball touch the ground and have him lose control.”

Williams said he remembered the Johnson play and hoped that a similar ruling would come into effect Sunday.

“To me, that was a great play because I thought he dropped it. But he was able to keep his concentration and hold it up until that point,” Williams said. “Like I said, I just knew that with Detroit, Calvin Johnson had done the same thing. I figured that’s what it was going to be. You’ve got to complete the catch all the way to the ground in the end zone. But you never know. It could’ve went either way. It’s just one of those plays”

Naturally, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was in favor of the ruling.

“I think what you want to do with the officials, is you want to draw a bright line, catch or no catch,” he said. “All the players know now, when you go to the ground, you have to come up with the ball in both hands. Basically, you have to hand the ball to the official. I think it draws a bright line [for] what may look like a catch. I think we’ll all learn the rule, but I am in favor of the rule.”

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