One of the most important plays of the Ravens' 24-10 road win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday was perhaps its most controversial.
After the Colts recovered a fumble by Ravens running back Gus Edwards near the goal line leading 10-7 early in the second half, quarterback Philip Rivers threw a deep pass down the right sideline intended for receiver Marcus Johnson. Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters made a leaping catch on the underthrown pass near midfield, but the ball was knocked away as Peters fell to the ground, and the pass was ruled incomplete.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh challenged the play, asserting that Peters made the catch before fumbling. Ravens safety Chuck Clark recovered the ball.
After review, the officials ruled that Peters controlled the football before the ball was knocked out of his hands, overturning the call on the field and awarding Peters with the interception. The Ravens then drove 54 yards for a touchdown to take a 14-10 lead.
“After review, we have clear and obvious visual evidence where the defender controls the football, takes three steps, fumbles the ball, and then is ultimately recovered by the defense,” said Al Riveron, the NFL’s vice president of officiating. “Therefore the ruling on the field was changed to an interception, and the defense keeps the ball.”
Rivers told reporters after the game that he disagreed with the call, though he acknowledged that the pass was underthrown.
“It’s gotten so jacked up how the catch rule is. No one who has been around football or watched football thought that was a catch, including the guy who caught it," Rivers said. "But some guy who has probably never caught a football in his life gets to decide.”
Peters, who forced a fumble that was returned 65 yards for a touchdown by Clark in the first quarter, said he “made a play with the ball.” He said he asked Rivers whether he thought it was an interception, and the quarterback said no.
“I was going backwards multiple steps, I had control of it, so I think it was an interception,” said Peters, who recorded his 30th interception in his 85th career game, joining Hall of Famers Deion Sanders and Ed Reed as the only players to do so.
Many disagreed with the call on social media, going so far as to say that “NFL teams and fans deserve better.”