Sam Shields: ‘The refs made a good call’

GREEN BAY—Sam Shields had solid coverage, and Dez Bryant made a remarkable play.

Those facts will never be in dispute, but whether or not Bryant’s leaping 31-yard catch down to the 1-yard line on fourth down with just over four minutes left should have been overturned will be a subject of debate for a long, long time.

After the Packers challenged the reception, replays showed the ball hitting the ground as Bryant reached it out toward the goal line. According to the rule regarding players going to the ground during a reception, they “must maintain possession of that football throughout the entire process of the catch,” referee Gene Steratore said in the official pool report.

In conjunction with the replay office in New York, Steratore ruled the pass incomplete. Instead of the Cowboys being less than a yard from a go-ahead TD, the Packers got the ball back with 4:06 left and never let Dallas get it again.

“I don’t think it was complete,” Shields said. “The refs made a good call on that. Things go down like that. It’s part of football.”

Shields confessed that, without seeing the replay, he thought Bryant caught it, but he said fellow cornerback Casey Hayward was the first on the field to see the ball jostled as it hit the ground.

“He hauled tail to the sideline to tell the coach he didn’t catch it,” Shields said.

Other teammates were thinking the same thing. It turned out to be the first challenge by Head Coach Mike McCarthy this season that was successful.

“Once you see it on the video board, the first thing that came to my head was the Calvin Johnson rule,” cornerback Tramon Williams said, referring to the controversial ending to the Lions-Bears game in Week 1 of 2010, when Johnson was ruled to not have completed a catch while going to the ground in the end zone on a play that would have won the game for Detroit. “I thought it was clear.

“Same exact thing. The referees made the right call in my book.”

Williams also wasn’t surprised at the Cowboys’ play call there, going for broke despite needing just two yards for the first down.

“When it’s do-or-die, throw to your main guy,” Williams said. “I felt that’s exactly what they were going to do. We sent the guys at (Romo, with a blitz), and we have to hold on in the back end.”

Shields got a hand on the ball as Bryant leaped over him to grab it, and that movement of the ball may have factored into the officials declaring that Bryant never had full control of the ball.

“Sam fought for that ball, got his hands in there,” Williams said. “I think he might have made it move it a little bit. That’s why the play happened the way it did. Game of inches, and we fought for all those inches.”

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