Terrell McClain | Nick Foles
© James Lang | 2018 Sep 6
Terrell McClain | Nick Foles © James Lang | 2018 Sep 6

So much for the officials swallowing their whistles in the regular season, and so much for the catch rule being fixed.

In the first half of the NFL opener between the Falcons and reigning champion Eagles on Thursday night, there were 16 penalties for 134 yards, with the first thrown on the very first play from scrimmage.

The good news? There weren't any controversial lowering-the-helmet flags thrown.

The bad news? 16 penalties for 134 yards in a nearly unwatchable half that ended with the Falcons leading 6-3. The laundry list includes an awful roughing the passer penalty on Falcons DT Grady Jarrett that clearly fell under the new Anthony Barr rules we've been told will be tougher for defenders to adjust to than the new helmet rule.

Perhaps worse, the second half opened with a chance for the NFL to show its catch rule clarification would do away with the ridiculous confusion regarding what is and what isn't a catch.

Instead, a would-be (read: should-be) 52-yard connection between Matt Ryan and Julio Jones following a nasty double move by Jones to get wide open down the right sideline past Jalen Mills was called incomplete after Jones initially bobbled the ball he was tracking over his shoulder before pinning it against his helmet and falling down in bounds.

The Falcons challenged the ruling and lost. And we all lost a bit of hope, naive or not, that 2018 would finally be the year when a catch can simply be a catch again.