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'That's a touchdown,' NFL head of officiating now says of Bills' erased TD

ORLANDO, Fla. — What seemed so obvious to the rest of the world on Dec. 24 is now, well, obvious to the NFL.

Kelvin Benjamin's touchdown catch that was taken away in the Buffalo Bills' 37-16 loss against the New England Patriots would have stood under the NFL's proposed new rule that defines what is and isn't a reception.

Who says?

The very man who made the decision to erase Benjamin's score in the first place: Al Riveron, the league's head of officiating.

During a news conference Monday at the NFL's annual meeting, Riveron was asked whether the new language of the definition of a catch would change his non-touchdown ruling on Benjamin.

"That's a touchdown," Riveron said without hesitation.

On Dec. 24, anyone watching the Bills-Patriots game in Foxborough, Mass., saw Benjamin make a spectacular grab in the end zone late in the first half. The officials working the game signaled that a TD was scored, and it was assumed the Bills would enter halftime with a 17-13 lead.

However, Riveron, from the NFL's officiating control center in New York, determined that Benjamin's left foot wasn't touching the ground in the end zone when he gained control of the ball. The ruling caused an uproar among Bills players, who were vocal in their criticism after the game.

The rewritten version of the catch rule, which is expected to be approved by NFL owners during the meeting, has been broken into three components: control of the ball with hands or arms before it touches the ground; two feet or any other part of the body other than the hands are in bounds; and a football move or maintaining control of the ball long enough to make a football move. Football moves include tucking the ball away, extending it towards or over the goal line or the line to gain, taking an additional step, turning upfield, or avoiding or warding off an opponent.

"We want to take these great catches and make them catches," Riveron said. "That's what our fans want, that's what our players want, that's what our coaches want."

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