Yes, the Bears outgained the Lions 463 yards to 168, but thanks to four turnovers and a coaching gaffe by Smith, they needed the enforcement of a bad rule to feel good.
The rule — which has been around for years — states that for a catch to be completed, a wide receiver must maintain possession throughout the entire process of the catch. A runner needs only to break the plane of the goal line, but receivers apparently are required to hold on to the ball long enough to count its laces.
So it didn't matter that Johnson leaped high above Bowman to make the grab, got both feet down inbounds and landed on his keister in total control of the ball. It mattered only that when the ball popped out of Johnson's right hand as he placed it on the ground, referee Gene Steratore ruled no catch — after the side judge closer to the play had signaled touchdown.
"The process was not finished until he finished that roll," Steratore told a pool reporter after the game
That was The Home Opener Homer of all time! Put an asterix next to that one.