NFL defends call against Jesse James

AP photo

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the last few minutes of yesterday's game. I have no idea how the Patriots won that game after being outplayed for most of it.

One of the biggest reasons they won? Jesse James dropping the game-winning touchdown pass with 28 seconds to go. The original ruling was that it was a touchdown, and in real time that's what it looked like.

However, James clearly lost control of the ball when he hit the ground. The call was then overturned by the officials. By rule, the correct call was made, as James never survived the ground. Don't tell that to the armchair refs, though. They want none of that.

Al Riveron, the NFL's senior vice president of officiating, defended the call.

"That's the key here. [James] is going to the ground. By rule, to complete the process of the catch, he must survive the ground. And by that, we mean he must maintain control of the football," Riveron said. "He does put the ball over the goal line extended. Once he gets there, he loses control of the football and then the ball hits the ground. ... Therefore two things occur: He loses control of the football, and the ball touches the ground prior to him regaining control. Therefore, the ruling on the field of a touchdown was changed to an incomplete pass."

Two plays later, Ben Roethlisberger went for a fake spike, but the Patriots were ready for it. Roethlisberger was looking for Eli Rodgers on a slant route and the ball was subsequently batted by Eric Rowe and Duron Harmon came down with it in the end zone to seal what was one of the best Patriots regular season wins since the 24-point comeback against Denver in 2013.

Look, I get it - the what is/what isn't a catch thing is a massive black hole with no end in sight. This same rule came into play just over a week ago with Adam Thielen in Carolina when he couldn't maintain control of the ball in the end zone. It happened with Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant in the playoffs in 2010 and 2014 respectively. No one ever wants to see a game come down to a call by the officials, but it happens.

I have long thought that if the ball crosses the goal line, which it did, that should be a touchdown. But it is clear as day James didn't maintain control of the ball when he hit the ground.

I won't say the Steelers got screwed, though. Not when the correct call was made. People can hate it all they want, they can say the refs are in bed with the Pats, (guess they never heard of Deflategate), they can say the Steelers got robbed, etc.

I understand fans' frustrations over this. I'd be pissed too if this didn't go my team's way. But to me, this is a non-issue.

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