Cowboys-Packers provided what we want in playoff football. We got to watch two talented (though injured) quarterbacks mess around in a high-energy atmosphere. Then, a review had to screw up our perfect experience.


On a fourth-and-two situation, Tony Romo found Dez Bryant in a one-on-one situation, a coverage ideal for the receiver. Bryant caught the ball, took three steps, and fell. The ball came loose, but Bryant reeled it back. The closest official ruled it as a catch, but the play went to review.

Officials reversed the call because they determined Bryant was still in the process of making the catch when the ball was jarred loose by the ground. (Read that sentence again; football officiating as a demonstration in real-time casuistry is the sort of thing that could make even gamblers swear off the sport eventually.) The Cowboys lost their goal-line situation, possession, and, eventually, the game.


Watching a replay from the sideline, it's unclear when the process ends. Bryant takes three steps; Bryant has possession of the ball; Bryant stretches out for the end zone. When Bryant chooses to reach for the end zone, doesn't that complete the process? Do any of us know anymore? Is football now necessarily an exercise in epistemology?

Even if (even though) the ruling was borderline, I know I wanted the catch to stand so that the Cowboys could get a chance to take the lead and keep the game's drama alive. Everyone wants to be entertained for as long as possible, even without a rooting interest. The fun ended unexpectedly.