Following a long catch-and-run by Juju Smith-Schuster, Ben Roethlisberger hit tight end Jesse James for a touchdown that would have put the Steelers up 30-24 on the Patriots with the extra point pending. For several replays, Jim Nantz and Tony Romo were emphatic that the touchdown would stand, before realizing that the slight bobble that came after James had gone to the ground and crossed over the goal line.
While the NFL officials may have gotten the interpretation right based on the letter of the law of needing to maintain control going into the ground — Mike Pereira thinks so — this is a stupid rule and there are massive inconsistencies in how the NFL applies it, both pertaining to touchdowns and elsewhere on the field.
For example, if you catch the ball on the 20 yard line and cross the plane but the ball comes out at that point, it counts. As another example, why was what Geronimo Allison did at the end of the Packers game ruled a completion and a fumble? He had control of the ball for the same amount or less time than Jesse James did here. It is illogical that the ground is what makes a difference here.
Nobody on the planet knows how long you need to have control of the ball for it to be considered a catch, and it just seems like NFL officials are making it up as they go. The rules should be written so that what Jesse James did here would incontrovertibly be a touchdown.
Instead, a game that has a high chance of determining home field in the AFC playoffs was swung on a bad rule.