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Hunter Henry discusses controversial reversed touchdown catch

Patriots vs. Vikings: New England can’t keep pace in 33-26 loss

New England Patriots v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Looking to take an important six-point lead in the third quarter, Mac Jones dropped back and hit Hunter Henry on third-and-goal for a touchdown. However, after a lengthy review, the officials ruled Henry lost control of the ball and did not complete the catch.

The Patriots were then settled for a field goal, their last points of the night.

“They called what they called,” Henry said postgame. “I believe I caught it. But, I mean, they made the call, and just gotta live with it.”

“They said it hit the ground, but my hand was under it — I believe my hand was under the ball. The hand was under the ball with it hitting the ground, that’s what kind of caused [the ball] to jump up.”

While the reversal certainly did not help the Patriots’ cause, it was not what lost them the game. With the non-touchdown call, the Patriots’ red-area woes continued. In total, they went 0-for-3 Thursday night inside the 20 against the league’s worst-ranked red-area defense.

“We got to move on from that play and play the rest of the game,” Mac Jones said. “There’s plenty of time left and there’s other times we could have punched it in and that wouldn’t have been an issue - kind of the same story there.”

“One call can't determine the outcome. We got to be able to do so it’s not even close.”

Bill Belichick, however, was not interested in discussing the call.

“Why don’t you guys go to the officials with your pool reporter and ask them about the play, and let them explain it to you,” Belichick said.

In the pool report released, NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Walt Anderson explained that the ball touched the ground as Henry lost control of it going to the ground.

Henry appeared to have possession of the football and make a football move to reach past the goal line, but Anderson went on to explain he did not maintain control going to the ground.

“Because as he’s going to the ground, he has to maintain control of the ball upon contacting the ground,” Anderson stated via the Pool Report. “The term that’s commonly used is ‘surviving the ground’ – a lot of people refer to that. So, as he’s going to the ground, he has the elements of two feet and control, but because he’s going to the ground, he has to maintain control of the ball when he does go to the ground.”

“If he had maintained control of the ball with two hands, even if the ball were to touch the ground, if you don’t lose control of the ball after it touches the ground, that would still be a catch.”

It’s an interesting explanation, as the NFL altered the catch rules prior to the 2018 season - shortly after the infamous Jesse James incompletion against the Patriots - to eliminate the idea of “surviving the ground.”

Within the new rules, a catch would be judged on three elements:

1. Control

2. Two feet down or another body part

3. A football move such as a third step, reaching/extending for the line-to-gain, or the ability to perform such an act.

Henry seemed to check all three boxes, but the officials seemingly deemed otherwise. Either way, the Patriots’ offense failed to put together any sorts of scoring drive together afterwards, leading to a 33-26 defeat.