The catch made by Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant against the Green Bay Packers in the 2014-15 NFL playoffs remains one of the most controversial calls in NFL history.
It’s fair to say that the 2015 Divisional Round game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers is a game that neither fanbase is going to forget any time soon and is sure to remain one of the most talked-about moments in NFL history for a very long time.
If you are a fan of the Cowboys, the words ‘Dez caught it’ are probably ingrained into your psyche so much and has more than likely given you a few nightmares over the years, whereas Packers fans will almost certainly take a little bit of a different view of the situation.
But what exactly is the story behind one of the most talked-about moments in the National Football League in recent years?
The Cowboys seemed like they were a team that were finally ready to become great once again, having built a team that could compete with for Super Bowl honours. A 12-4 record was best in the NFC East and good for the #3 seed in the NFC, and had as many as 4 1st-Team All-Pro players on their side, with 2 further 2nd-Team All-Pro to boot.
They had squeaked past the Detroit Lions the week before in the Wild Card game after something of a questionable refereeing call that could have seen them lose the game but having been on a five-game win streak heading back into the regular season would have been feeling confident against the #2 seed Packers in Green Bay.
The game itself was a very close and evenly fought affair, with the Cowboys holding on to a 21-20 lead at the start of the 4th quarter, and they were looking good to try and take the lead again, only for everything to unravel for them.
The ‘catch’ that wasn’t a catch
With less than 5 minutes to go in the game, the Cowboys had a 4th and 2 within Packers territory. Romo threw a rather risky deep pass towards Bryant near the goal line and along the sideline.
Bryant made an incredible leaping catch over the defender, and having caught the ball, tried to not only keep the ball secure for the rest of the play, but also reached out towards the endzone in an effort to score a touchdown, a move which caused the ball to bobble, although still arguably in Bryant’s possession.
Bryant didn’t get a touchdown, but was awarded the ball on the one-yard line by the officials, only for Packers head coach Mike McCarthy to challenge the play, as he claimed the ball touched the ground before Bryant could ‘complete the process’ of the catch. The play was reviewed and after consulting the footage, referee Gene Steratore claimed that Bryant did not properly secure the ball before it hit the ground, overturning the play and ruling the pass incomplete:
(Sorry to do this, but it’s my job)— T̷R̷O̷Y̷ ̷H̷U̷G̷H̷E̷S̷ (@TommySledge) January 11, 2021
ON THIS DAY in 2015 — On 4th and 2, Tony Romo took a deep shot for Dez Bryant in one of the most amazing catches … that wasn’t
Green Bay Packers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 26-21 to move onto the NFC Championship game #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/v5XBCuWbqR
The league would eventually change the wording of the catch rule, meaning that Bryant’s effort would have counted under the new interpretation, but it doesn’t do him a lot of good now.
Do you think Dez caught it?