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NFL Sideline Catches Emphasize Artistry

Barton Silverman/New York Times

A regulation football field measures 360 by 160 feet, and even with 22 players roving about, there is plenty of open space — more than an acre of it. On the fringes of that vastness, away from the collisions and the contact, a certain artistry prevails.

The sideline and the end line are the domain of the sport’s acrobats, its tightrope walkers and contortionists, where the fundamental art of catching a pass becomes a balance-beam routine. Everywhere else on the field, a receiver concerns himself with only the catch itself, the physical act of securing the ball. Along the margins, another factor comes into play: his feet.

Both must land in bounds for the reception to count. Agility is a plus. Awareness is a must. It has to be when the difference between infamy...

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