Belichick: NFL's catch rule is 'tough,' but it's also 'pretty clear'

Belichick: NFL's catch rule is 'tough,' but it's also 'pretty clear'

The kid in you thought Jesse James made the catch Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh. The adult reminded you the rules have changed, but damned if you still aren’t unsure of what actually constitutes a catch these days. The coaches on opposite sides for that instant classic at Heinz Field seemed to disagree -- not surprisingly.

On his conference call Tuesday, I asked Bill Belichick if he liked the rule that turned James’ game-winner into nothing more on the stat sheet than an incomplete pass. After initially trending toward a non-opinion, the Pats coach/historian offered a little more insight into his thought process.


“Well, I think that’s really a conversation for people like Al [Riveron, Senior VP of Officiating] and the league and so forth,” he started. “But, there's always been a philosophy in the league and it’s gone back several decades of philosophically whether you want to have a catch and a fumble or an incomplete pass, and the philosophy has always been incomplete pass. Otherwise, you'd have a million catches and fumbles. I agree with that.”

“The catch in the end zone is very clearly stated, so you've got to complete a catch. It's pretty clear. Whether there’s a better way to do that, I don’t know. It’s a tough rule. It’s a bang-bang play. It could go either way, so I think you have to have a philosophy and whatever philosophy you have then there will be people on the other side with a different philosophy and then it really gets back into that whole discussion. I think if you've got a better way to do it, suggest it and let somebody take a look at it and we'll talk about it. I don’t know.”

Meanwhile, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin thinks change is necessary, although he -- like Belichick -- either doesn’t have an answer for how the rule should be rewritten and redefined, or isn’t ready to share.

“I think that we all can acknowledge that all of this needs to be revisited," Tomlin said. "It's not just that play. We're having similar discussions week in and week out. So as a member of the committee, I acknowledge that we've got our work cut out for us this offseason regarding a number of those things."

Maybe that lack of clarity -- as Tomlin seems to be indicating -- will always be there in the replay era where plays can be slowed down frame by frame. But what’s clear is that the Steelers either don’t know the rule as well as they should or are just plain careless. The Pats, on the other hand, have been schooled on that and much more.

“Yeah, we talk about it,” said Belichick. “We talk about everything that’s football-related, so situations, ball security, all of those things. We go over all of the situations. There are a lot of different ones. They're not quite all the same, but we cover them and make sure that they understand what we would want them to do in different situations. As I said, there are many different things that could happen on the types of plays that you're describing.”

Pats special teams guru and part-time wide receiver Matthew Slater told NBC Sports Boston’s “Monday Night Patriots” that it all depends on where you are on the field and what the situation is -- as Belichick indicated -- but that ball security is always the number one priority. Maybe the guys in Pittsburgh will finally get that memo.


David Harris retires after 11 seasons with Jets, Patriots

File Photo

David Harris retires after 11 seasons with Jets, Patriots

David Harris's 11-year run in the NFL has come to an end. 

On Friday, the linebacker announced his retirement from the game of football after spending 10 seasons with the Jets and one with the Patriots. 

The Jets drafted Harris with the 47th pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, he racked up 5 sacks and 127 total tackles. His breakout rookie season was an clear indication of the solid player he would become over the course of his career. 

Although he neither won a Super Bowl, nor made it to a Pro Bowl, the linebacker served as a focal point on a Rex Ryan defense that appeared in two AFC Championships in 2010 and 2011. 

When he was released in 2017, the 34-year-old made a career choice to sign with the Patriots to compete for a Super Bowl.

He didn't go out a champion, but a trip to the Super Bowl was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for one of the most underrated linebackers of the past decade. 



What was Odell Beckham Jr. telling Kyrie Irving?

AP Photo

What was Odell Beckham Jr. telling Kyrie Irving?

Admittedly, the audio is poor but the idea is no less intriguing.

Was Odell Beckham Jr. telling Kyrie Irving at NBA All-Star Weekend that he's trying to go to the Patriots? Or to Boston? Or New England? 

It's 23 seconds into the video below: 

Isaiah Houde of USA TODAY's PatriotsWire interprets it as: "You went to the Celtics and I’m trying to go to New England."

Beckham has had a few Instagram posts about Brady recently, including an exchange of rap lyrics back in December. 


A post shared by Odell Beckham Jr (@obj) on

Unless there's a trade between the Patriots and Giants, Beckham, 25, the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, won't be free to join Kyrie in New England - or was it Boston? - until the four-year deal he signed in 2014 ends after this season. Oh, and as he enters that 2019 season, Tom Brady will be 42.