Confusion regarding the NFL’s catch rule struck in Pittsburgh on Sunday, when an apparent Jesse James touchdown reception was overturned upon review. Debate around what eventually was ruled an incomplete pass is fueled in part by the fact the score more than likely would have given the Steelers a win over the Patriots.
Thanks in part to what happened after the (non-)catch by James, New England got the win, 27-24.
The play in question occurred with 28 seconds left in the game; Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a game-ending interception a couple plays later.
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Shortly after the game, the NFL and senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron released a video explaining their call.
The video is an explanation from @NFL SVP of Officiating Al Riveron on the reversal at the end of the #NEvsPIT game. pic.twitter.com/hm5EeoZTER
— NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) December 18, 2017
“That’s the key here — (James) is going to the ground,” Riveron explains. “By rule, to complete the process of a catch, he must survive the ground. And by that, we mean he must maintain control of the ball.
“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.”
Riveron is in his first season as the NFL’s head of officiating. More details on the rules for completing a catch in the NFL can be found here.