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Should Calvin Johnson’s catch vs. Bears have counted?

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

The play that officials ruled wasn’t a touchdown in the Bears’ season-opening victory against the Detroit Lions last season won’t be a touchdown in 2011, either.

‘‘Would Calvin Johnson’s be a catch under 2011 rules? Our answer would be no,” NFL competition committee chairman Rich McKay, the Atlanta Falcons’ president, said during a conference call Wednesday from the committee’s meetings in Naples, Fla.

The Lions’ Calvin Johnson made what appeared to be a game-winning touchdown reception late in the game Sept. 12, but it was later ruled incomplete because the ball touched the ground while still in his Johnson’s hand as he attempted to leap up and celebrate. The committee is recommending that the rule resulting in the controversy be clarified but not changed.

‘‘We confirmed a rule that has been there for more than 70 years which basically says there are three elements to a catch,’’ McCay said. ‘‘Secure the ball in your hands; maintain control when you have two feet down or any body part other than the hands [down]. We will write it into the rules that you must ­control the ball long enough after ‘A’ and ‘B’ [to] enable you to perform any act common to the game. That doesn’t mean you have to perform the act, but must have the ability to.’’

Player safety was the main focus of the competition committee meetings, according to McKay and Ray Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations.

The committee will make several proposals at next week’s owners’ meetings in New Orleans, including possible suspensions for illegal helmet hits, hits on defenseless players or unnecessary hits to the head and neck area.

The NFL cracked down on such hits last year, fining players more than ever before, but issued no suspensions.

‘‘We understand that we need to continue in terms of disciplining to discourage ­repeat offenders and flagrant violators and hold not just players but coaches and clubs accountable,’’ Anderson said. ‘‘There will be strong support in the 2011 season for making sure that players understand that, when warranted, suspensions will be an effective discipline for us. We don’t want to go there, but if we must, we’re prepared to do that because these rules are meant to protect everybody on the field.’’

Another proposal involves moving the kickoff line from the 35-yard line to the 30, moving touchbacks from the 20 to the 25 and eliminating all forms of wedge blocking on kickoffs. Those recommendations will be made in an effort to lower what McKay called a high injury rate on kickoffs.

The committee also will recommend that all scoring plays be reviewable by replay officials, similar to rules currently in place during the final two minutes of each half and overtime.

Another proposal would eliminate the possibility of a third coach’s challenge, which a coach can use under the current rules if his two previous challenges are successful. McKay said the third challenge is rarely used.

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