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Absurdity of NFL’s catch rule on full display when officials reviewed Antonio Brown’s catch in Week 1

What’s a catch in today's NFL? Nobody seems to know, and that uncertainty led to a few tense moments following Antonio Brown's game-clinching catch on Sunday.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Mere seconds after I watched Steelers receiver Antonio Brown make yet another awe-inspiring play, outleaping three Browns defenders to pull in a crucial 38-yard pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, I jumped up and let out a loud cheer.

I wasn't the only one in the room who did, as my cousins and uncle all celebrated in unison.

But after a few seconds of cringe-worthy celebratory sentiments (you know the kinds of things you blurt out when you're happy with the result of a sporting event?), we all noticed Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson conferring with the referee on his decision to challenge Brown's reception.

At first, we all thought, "What's there to challenge?" Then, after we looked at the replay to see that Brown had landed on his back with ball in hand before losing it after turning over onto his knee, my uncle said, "Well, you have to maintain possession all the way to the end of the play."

And he was right.

Of course it was a catch, anyone with eyes could see that. But since this isn't 1984 anymore—back when catches were catches—the consensus in the room was that the call very well might be overturned.

It was probably about 30/70 that it would be ruled an incompletion, but if you were a Browns fan at that point, you had to like those odds.

I don't blame Jackson for challenging the call; what's there to lose at that point? And I certainly don't blame the referee for taking an agonizingly long amount of time to announce his final verdict. By the NFL's silly standards for what qualifies as a catch these days, one could have seen some justification in overturning the ruling on the field.

Thankfully, that ruling stood and my family and I continued on with our victory celebration.

But it sure was a shame that play had to be interrupted to review a catch that clearly passed the eye test of anyone who’s ever caught anything and then dropped it seconds later after taking a few steps (your keys would be a good example).

But, then again, isn't this what the NFL has come to these days?

You can't celebrate right away after a hard hit by your team, because you don't know if you'll see those yellow flags come flying onto the field.

When you see an incomplete pass downfield, you have to hold your breath for a second or two to see if there's a pass interference call.

If there's a game-winning field goal, you have to wait to see if the losing coach called a timeout a fraction of a second before the snap.

And, of course, you can't watch a wide receiver make a spectacular catch on the sideline, where he's knocked into the Gatorade table, without wondering if he will still have possession of the ball once they pull the table off of his prone body.

I'll give you all the other stuff, but I just wish catches were still catches.

It certainly would make those living room celebrations a lot more enjoyable.