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Controversial Ruling on Jermaine Gresham Touchdown Helps Ravens Hold Off Bengals, Propels Baltimore Back into First Place in AFC North

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The "Calvin Johnson Rule" reared its ugly head again, this time in Baltimore's 31-24 win over Cincinnati in Week 11. 

There's much debate surrounding the sequence of TE Jermaine Gresham's catch/no catch that would have brought the game to 31-28 with 5:35 left in the fourth quarter. 

Sometimes, the ruling on the field is not well-explained, but it is still the correct call. 

That appears to be the case here. 

As it's written, the receiver must maintain possession after he hits the ground. The Calvin Johnson Rule is particularly controversial in end zone situations, but it applies everywhere on the field.  It earned its name after Johnson, a receiver for the Detroit Lions, caught a pass in the end zone, but let the ball go before he stopped sliding on the ground. It was a highly controversial call, but according to the rules, the correct one. 

Gresham originally touched the ball at about the 2-yard-line. He bobbled it toward the front pylon, and did not appear to have possession of the ball until the ball was just at the goal line. 

Because of that, Gresham technically caught the ball in the end zone, therefore, he must maintain possession of it after he hits the ground. That's the main issue. There's no question he did not maintain possession when he goes to the ground, but if he was a runner on the play, it should have been called a touchdown. And the ball could not have been more than an inch or two over the line. It's hard to say it even was, but it was certainly close enough to suggest the call could fairly go either way. 

While Ravens fans will likely praise the call, and Bengals fans will decry it, it could have gone either way. The ball was so close to the goal line, and without a replay from a camera that is flush with the goal line, it's extremely difficult to see if the ball does break the plane of the end zone when Gresham establishes possession. 

Sometimes that's the way it goes in the up-and-down world of the NFL. Baltimore is in the driver's seat, owner of the head-to-head tiebreaker in the AFC North over Pittsburgh. If the Ravens win out, they will win the AFC North.  It's a short week for the Ravens, though, as they have a home game against NFC West-leading San Francisco. 

The 49ers, bizarrely, could clinch the division with a win over the Ravens on Thanksgiving, and losses from Arizona (vs. St. Louis) and Seattle (vs. Washington). After they throttled the Cardinals at home in Week 11, they moved to 9-1 on the year. Thursday looks to be a big game for both teams.