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Ref says ‘feet down first’ has nothing to do with simultaneous possession

Alex Kemp added that it is simply whether the receiver had control of the ball throughout the catch

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

One play in the Broncos’ win over the Packers on Sunday that could have been a huge bone of contention had the Broncos not been victorious was the “touchdown/interception” between Romeo Doubs and Pat Surtain.

The ruling on the field was a touchdown. But replay seemed to clearly show Surtain with the ball and two feet on the ground, which fans and many analysts watching believed to be an interception.

Upon reply, the refs maintained the ruling on the field - touchdown.

The Pro Football Writers Association assigned ESPN’s Broncos beat reporter Jeff Legwold to do a “pool interview” with NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Walt Anderson and Referee Alex Kemp to understand this ruling.

Kemp explained that the field ruling was that Doubs “controlled the ball while airborne and came to the ground and never lost control of the ball,” making it a touchdown.

Legwold asked if it matters that Surtain’s feet were on the ground first, and Kemp replied it did not matter and that it doesn’t mean he possessed the ball first.

According to Kemp’s further replies, Surtain having his feet on the ground does not impact the ruling at all and that it is “simply if the receiver controls throughout the catch.”

Anderson explained that the call was reviewed in New York.

“And since the ruling on the field was a touchdown, we reviewed the play for the elements of a catch, which were control and maintaining control when he went to the ground, and then the receiver kept control of the ball,” Anderson said. “There were no views that showed that the receiver ever lost control of the ball from the time he initially possessed it until he completed the catch process on the ground.”

Legwold also asked if that ruling is because the offensive player has the first right to the ball if he controls in a simultaneous possession.

Although Kemp clarified they did not rule it a simultaneous possession, he added that it still would have been a touchdown.

“By rule, simultaneous possession is a touchdown, or is a catch by the receiver,” Kemp said.

Surtain, Sean Payton and most of Broncos Twitter disagreed.

“When you have two on it in the end zone, your feet down, I think we’re going to see that was something maybe that should have been called the other way,” Payton said after the game. “We kind of all grow up with the idea of tie goes to and who wrestles it out of the arms, but if you have two clean hands on it when you land in the end zone—I was a little surprised.”