Originally Posted by bkight13
It was very similar to the play earlier in the game when Ray Rice caught the ball, quickly turned upfield and was stripped. They called that one a fumble and I think Crabtree fumbled as well. He took 2 steps and turned upfield right before getting hit. I have seen that play penalized before and it was a close call either way.
There's a key difference with the play with Rice in that Rice was clearly able to defend himself. He was stiff-arming the guy. On top of that, the spin move he did is a move that is common to the game. He attempted 2 moves to ward off the impending contact.
Crabtree did not. He was not in a position to ward off the contact at all. Not that it makes a difference in the rule but I'm not sure how you can call that two steps. His first foot was nearly on the ground when he caught it. The aspect that matters, as you said in your initial reply, is the ability to defend himself. He didn't have enough time to perform an act that is common to the game and didn't even complete two full strides. Looking up field after reaching back for a pass doesn't cut it. If it was, there essentially would never be a time a player is defenseless because nearly every player starts to look upfield after catching the ball. It's the ability to avoid contact or ward off the impending hit that is the key and Crabtree clearly couldn't do it.