LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears coach John Fox said on Monday that the team intends to submit tight end Zach Miller's overturned 25-yard touchdown catch to the league office for further clarification as to why the initial ruling of a completion was reversed.
“Yeah, I think that’s safe to say [we’re sending that play to the league],” Fox said.
At the 3-minute, 55-second mark of the third quarter of Chicago’s 20-12 loss at the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, Miller made a nice over-the-shoulder catch from Mitchell Trubisky in the end zone for a score, but it was later ruled that he did not maintain possession of the ball, negating the touchdown.
To make matters worse, Miller, 33, dislocated his left knee on the play.
Miller underwent emergency vascular surgery on Sunday night. The Bears said in a statement that Miller’s procedure was successful, but he will remain hospitalized in New Orleans for the foreseeable future. The injury certainly will end Miller’s season, and perhaps his career.
Referee Carl Cheffers offered a brief explanation after the game.
“Obviously, we are all familiar with the process of a catch at this point,” Cheffers told a pool reporter. “So we ruled that he was going to the ground as part of the process of the catch. So when he goes to the ground, he has to survive the ground. He went to the ground and he temporarily lost control of the ball. The ball hit the ground, therefore it’s incomplete. The ball hit the ground out of his control. So as part of the process of the catch, he did not complete that process, and therefore it was incomplete, and they overturned the call on the field.”
Whatever insight the NFL provides on the matter won’t bring Miller back, but it might help Chicago’s wide receivers understand the league's thought process of completing the catch.
“As long as the ball is in my hands and it never touched the ground and I get up with the ball, that’s a catch,” Bears receiver Tre McBride said on Monday. “There are situations where, did he have control when he fell on the ground or whatever? I don’t know how the refs do that. I don’t know anything about that. All I know is if I catch the ball and I’m down on the ground and the ball doesn’t hit the ground and never leaves my body, regardless of if it’s in my hand -- the play's over and I got the ball in my hand and that’s a catch as far as I’m concerned."