Ask the Official: September 11, 2013

There has been some questioning if Cruz’ second TD reception was actually a reception, as the ball came loose as Cruz hit the ground.
I believe the right call was made by calling it a TD. Cruz caught the ball in the field of play and then advanced the ball into the end zone. He was hit while airborne, but made an act common to the game of football to establish possession by twisting his body to reach into the end zone.

Also, seeing as the ball was firmly under control when Cruz’ forearm/elbow hit the ground and the ball was across the plane of the goal line, the play was declared a TD at that point, effectively ending the play, which makes the ball becoming dislodged when it hits the ground irrelevant. – Jeremy S.

This was actually a very close call on the part of the officials. Based on what I can see from the side angle, Cruz had possession of the ball and both feet down in the field of play so he is considered to have completed the catch. At that point he is considered to be a runner in possession of the ball and as a result, when he lunged, all the ball needed to do was break the plane of the goal line for it to be a TD. Everything that happened after was with a dead ball so there were no consequences. 

Had he possessed the ball while going to the ground in the end zone and then lost control when he hit the ground, it would have been an incompletion. As the play resulted in a TD, it was reviewed automatically by the Replay official and stood as called on the field.   

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