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League defends touchdown calls for Texans, Panthers

We pointed out last night that Raiders fans, in our view, now have the right to be up in arms regarding the decision from the Week One finale to wipe out a touchdown catch by Louis Murphy, which turned a seven-pointer into a three-pointer in a game decided by four points.

Specifically, in similar situations during Week Two, the Texans and the Panthers each got to keep a touchdown when, based on the letter of the rule that robbed the Raiders, it looked to us like they shouldn’t.

For the rest of the background, read our story (with links to the video of the plays) from last night.

So we asked the league to comment on the two plays -- catches by Texans receiver Jacoby Jones and Panthers tight end Dante Rosario that were upheld via replay review. Here’s what the league had to say, per NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.

“On Rosario, he completed the catch, turned up field and stretched the ball over the goal line for a touchdown before he goes to the ground,” Aiello said via e-mail. “He didn’t use the ground to complete the catch. In the Oakland play, Murphy goes straight to the ground.

“On Jacoby Jones, he caught the ball, his knee hit the ground, and he maintained possession,” Aiello added. “Then the Titans player flipped him over the top and [Jones] hit the ground a second time and lost the ball. But it was already a touchdown by virtue of maintaining possession the first time he hit the ground.”

Sorry, but we have to disagree. In Rosario’s case, he pushed the ball over the goal line while going to the ground. So, under the rule that nullified Murphy’s touchdown, Rosario should have been required to maintain possession of the ball, once he landed on the ground. Clearly, he didn’t.

As to Jones, the only difference was that, before Jones could naturally land on the ground, he was flipped and tossed to the ground by the Tennessee defender. But, in our view, Jones was still in the act of going to the ground. So he needed to keep possession until he landed on the ground. Clearly, he didn’t.

Bottom line? This gap in the rule and the interpretation of it needs to be addressed and resolved, quickly. In the perception of this neutral third party who if anything is naturally inclined to support the league’s position on things of this nature, either the Murphy call was wrong, or the calls from Sunday were wrong.

But there’s no way that all three calls were right.