Art Rooney: Call was right, rule was bad on Jesse James’ overturned touchdown

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Steelers owner Art Rooney II has no complaints about the decision to overturn Jesse James’ apparent game-winning touchdown against the Patriots. But he does have a complaint about the rule that makes that a correct decision.

Rooney said NFL head of officiating Al Riveron did the right thing by the letter of the rule when he changed the touchdown call on the field to an incomplete pass. But Rooney added that the NFL should change the rule.

“Look, I think the Jesse James play was actually called the right way,” Rooney said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “That’s the way the rule reads, but I don’t think that should be the rule. I think that he had possession of that ball, reached into the end zone and had possession when he was reaching in. If he were a running back, that would have been a touchdown. Just having consistency in the way plays are officiated like that, I think we have room to improve it.”

There’s a consensus around the league that the catch rule needs to be changed. Add the Steelers to the list of teams that will vote for a rule change this offseason.

59 responses to “Art Rooney: Call was right, rule was bad on Jesse James’ overturned touchdown

  1. Wow. We have all these owners coming out saying it’s a bad rule. I don’t think they’re going to get much of an argument from anyone. It is a bad rule. But don’t these owners own the league? They’re the people in charge of the people who made this dumb rule. I can understand the owners not wanting to micro-manage, but one of them should have spoken up. Fans get turned off by stuff that is extremely ridiculous. Common sense is becoming more uncommon. The old catch rule worked fine for 50 years. The only thing that was missing was replay. Now we have replay.

  2. This is exactly what I’ve beeen saying. It’s not the refs or the league helping the Pats. It’s just a correct ruling of a bad rule

  3. If every play was run from five different angles in super slow motion, then there would be 45 holding calls and just as many PI’s every game. Games would be 5 hours long. Stop with all the “did the ball move a millimeter” or “did his knee touch a blade of grass” BS and get back to playing football.

  4. He is correct. Let’s work on getting a rule that’s easier to understand and very clear.

    The only similarity to the Ertz TD is they both happened near the end zone. Both were ruled correctly.

  5. .
    Rooney is correct. Like the much ballyhooed “tuck rule”, the officials made the proper call on the James catch according to the rulebook. However, there’s been controversy over the catch rules for years. Some fine tuning is needed in that area because complaints are coming in from all precincts.
    .

  6. The more they tinker with it, the more they’ll mess it all up.

    We all know what a catch is. And we shouldn’t need so many words to define it.

  7. This goes way back. The Butch Johson TD in SB12 for Dallas is on example.
    Give the NFL credit. At least they are trying to get it right.

  8. Very reasonable and responsible statement by the Pittsburgh Steelers owner. We need more of that across the board.

  9. Another team calling for the rules to be changed because they lost a close game to the Pats. The rule is now fairly clear it’s just the inconsistent application – one of the two Eagles’ close-call TDs should have been overturned but you don’t hear Kraft, BB or the Pats whining about it.

  10. Just having consistency in the way plays are officiated like that, I think we have room to improve it.”
    ======
    Consistency for sure.

    And common sense. If it looks like a catch with the eye test it’s a catch. That was a TD by any standard of common sense.

  11. That James call vs the Ertz call in the Superb Owl made sense when tested against how the rules are written.
    It was the bobble TD that stood which made a mockery of the video review based on the fact that it was ruled one way the entire season, and the complete opposite during the Superb Owl.

    The rules are what they are. (regardless of whether we agree with them or not) It’s the Park Avenue review committee that is broken. Their inconsistency on their own rules gives rise to the “favoritism” and “fix is in” crowd. And to be fair, sometimes you can see where that crowd is coming from.

  12. Waiting for the Pats trolls to mis-read the article & bash the Steelers for excuses all the time. For those who plan to do that, he agreed the call was made correctly. Like the rest of us, he wants the rule changed so that a RB & WR have same rules. Once you go past the plane of the goal line w/ ball secured, end of play & TD. Simple

  13. Thank you sir for being the first person out if Pittsburgh to speak of it correctly and not scream of cheating or collusion. Hopefully the fan base listens. And hopefull with the problem properly identified perhaps it can be addressed.

  14. Sorry Art i disagree. The NFL catch rules suck but one that i don’t think is hard to figure out is maintain control going to the ground and if the ball hits the ground and moves it is incomplete. The NFL could save themselves a ton of grief by changing the rule to if the ball touches the ground it is incomplete. Then there is replay. Replace was brought in to fix horrible calls on the field not having the replay official watching it frame by frame. The

  15. Rooney went on to suggest that in these review situations, a man, woman, and transgender person from every major ethnic/religious background should be consulted prior to making a final decision on the play.

  16. grant35 says:
    February 8, 2018 at 9:10 am
    Waiting for the Pats trolls to mis-read the article & bash the Steelers for excuses all the time. For those who plan to do that, he agreed the call was made correctly. Like the rest of us, he wants the rule changed so that a RB & WR have same rules. Once you go past the plane of the goal line w/ ball secured, end of play & TD. Simple

    ————————
    Lol, if you respond to Rooneys statement by attacking Pats fans its not they who be the trolls.

  17. charliecharger says: “The old catch rule worked fine for 50 years.”
    ——————-

    Uh, NO IT DIDN’T. Before the Bert Emanuel Rule in 2000, any ball touching the ground was ruled INCOMPLETE, regardless if receiver had possession or not.

    This Jesse James “catch” would’ve been deemed incomplete without any debate at all.

  18. Don’t fans in New England play football? Youre all delusional if you think that the rule was correct. The call was correct in regards to a terrible rule. He had full possession and the ball fell out after he crossed the plain.

    Patriots received 4 straight calls on what you could say were 50/50 calls – James, Jenkins, Cooks, and Benjamin. The odds of getting all of those calls is 1/16 at best for you blue collar morons up in the Northeast. No one can help you if you can’t see a problem with that.

  19. steelcurtainn says:
    February 8, 2018 at 9:30 am
    Mr Rooney is spot on! The rule is stupid and cost the Steelers the number 1 seed and changed the entire format of the playoffs…..
    ———————————————–

    You make a fair point. If the James play is ruled a TD the Steelers might have won that game; and then the Steelers would have lost to the Titans in the divisional round instead of losing to the Jaguars.

  20. Don’t fans in New England play football? Youre all delusional if you think that the rule was correct. The call was correct in regards to a terrible rule. He had full possession and the ball fell out after he crossed the plain
    ——-

    Wait, a rule cannot be right or wrong just the interpretation of the rule. The rule is the rule and the refs got the call right based on the rule.

    If you want a different rule, that’s fine. The rule sucks. Refs should follow the rule as written

  21. Ok then, owners you can’t get your own rule right? It’s not like it just started this year. You broke the NFL brand of football and have not taken accountability for that and many other things that you have handled horribly owners. Including but not limited to hit’s,fines and suspensions and their inconsistencies,domestic violence was a complete embarrassment and making up punishments and not having policy already set (Elliott & Brady). It is part of why you are losing viewership along with over saturation of games and basic greed. Fans shouldn’t have to watch your broken brand of football. Rooney is just as much at fault as he is a person that allows Goodell to go and take the brunt all while not holding him or the owners accountable.

    Signed a Steelers Fan!

  22. whywerule says:
    February 8, 2018 at 10:15 am
    steelcurtainn says:
    February 8, 2018 at 9:30 am
    Mr Rooney is spot on! The rule is stupid and cost the Steelers the number 1 seed and changed the entire format of the playoffs…..
    ———————————————–
    You make a fair point. If the James play is ruled a TD the Steelers might have won that game; and then the Steelers would have lost to the Titans in the divisional round instead of losing to the Jaguars

    =======
    And then we get a Titans Jaguars AFC Championship.

  23. Common sense: Brady fumbled on the tuck rule play. It was a no doubter. They had no business moving on. The Raiders really won that game.

    More common sense in football please. The game shouldn’t be rocket science!

  24. All the nfl did on Sunday was mess up their own rule even more. There is no such thing as a catch anymore. Bobbling the ball is suddenly allowed? Is there no such thing as the catch process, which they preached all year? No consistency. Which means the games are in the hands of the refs.

  25. grant35 says:
    February 8, 2018 at 9:10 am
    Waiting for the Pats trolls to mis-read the article & bash the Steelers for excuses all the time. For those who plan to do that, he agreed the call was made correctly. Like the rest of us, he wants the rule changed so that a RB & WR have same rules. Once you go past the plane of the goal line w/ ball secured, end of play & TD. Simple

    ———-

    It has nothing to do with whether it is a RB or WR crossing the plane….is has to do with whether it is a pass or a run. If it is a run, then the player established possession immediately. if he loses possession it is a fumble. On a pass, possession needs to be first established and additionally has to survive the ground if the receiver goes to the ground before establishing possession. It is actually pretty simple….but you still don’t get it.

  26. The rule is simple to understand and simple to apply. Is it a bad rule? maybe it is, but there has to be a rule that is simple to understand and simple to apply. If the NFL can change the rule and make it simple to understand and simple to apply AND improve the rule-go for it. I’ve read many possible solutions, corrections, etc. but few have been simple to understand or apply. We’ll see what happens but I have doubts they can fix this easily.

  27. The Ertz play was obviously a TD. The James play was obviously incomplete. These plays were obvious as long as one understands the rule. The other play where the receivers left foot touched out of bounds was a difficult play to call. He may have had control when the ball transferred hands he may not have. The call stood because of the way it was ruled on the field. I’m a Patriots fan and have no issue with any of these three calls. The Eagles played very well and deserved to win. They made the plays necessary to win. NE did not. It happens.

    Go Pats.

  28. Wasn’t Mike Tomlin part of the Competition Committee when they came up with the current catch rules? If Rooney thinks the rule is bad and has questions about it, he just needs to walk down the hall and talk to his coach.

  29. idislikespeciousness says:
    February 8, 2018 at 11:28 am

    The Ertz play was obviously a TD. The James play was obviously incomplete. These plays were obvious as long as one understands the rule. The other play where the receivers left foot touched out of bounds was a difficult play to call. He may have had control when the ball transferred hands he may not have. The call stood because of the way it was ruled on the field. I’m a Patriots fan and have no issue with any of these three calls. The Eagles played very well and deserved to win. They made the plays necessary to win. NE did not. It happens.
    —————————————————————————————————————–
    I agree. Referees were not the reason NE lost. They had their chance and the eagle were better and deserved to win. Whining about a play here or there is for losers making excuses.

  30. grant35 says:
    February 8, 2018 at 9:10 am

    Waiting for the Pats trolls to mis-read the article & bash the Steelers for excuses all the time.
    ——————————————————————————————————
    The owner didn’t make any excuses; the fans have done nothing but make excuses for about 6 years now.

  31. idislikespeciousness says:
    February 8, 2018 at 11:28 am

    The other play where the receivers left foot touched out of bounds was a difficult play to call. He may have had control when the ball transferred hands he may not have. The call stood because of the way it was ruled on the field.
    ————————

    During the regular season, that call would have been rightfully overturned because control wasn’t established before the foot touched out of bounds.

    After all of the claptrap about favoritism towards the Patriots, I suspect that Al was under a lot of pressure to not overturn that call, even though he should have.

  32. grant35 says:
    February 8, 2018 at 9:10 am

    Waiting for the Pats trolls to mis-read the article & bash the Steelers for excuses all the time.
    ———————

    They don’t have to misread any article in order to rightly bash the Steelers and their fans for crying and making excuses all the time.

  33. They should make it a judgment call as to whether possession is secured prior to hitting the ground. A football move–which includes reaching out the ball or diving forward–demonstrates possession.

  34. mmack66…

    I’m not sure that the receiver didn’t transfer the ball purposely (which would have shown control). As much as I wanted them to overturn the call, I can’t honestly say it should have been overturned. It’s cool if you feel the ball was bobbled or that full control was not gained and the call should have been overturned. Riveron may have felt pressure too, I could agree with that. It was a very close call.

    The only play where I feel the officials made an obvious error was on the TD pass to Foles. They clearly had seven players in the backfield. Mistakes are made.

    In the end the Patriots had the ball and more than enough time to win the game. The Eagles made a Championship winning play on defense. It was very disappointing but I can’t say the officiating was a major factor in the loss. It’s just my take on the game.

  35. Common sense: Brady fumbled on the tuck rule play. It was a no doubter. They had no business moving on. The Raiders really won that game.
    =====

    Tuck Rule was lame. But there’s no telling what the outcome may have been if not for that dumb rule.

    Who’s to say the Raiders don’t fumble as Roger Craig did trying to run out the clock in the 1990 NFCC Game?

  36. You make a fair point. If the James play is ruled a TD the Steelers might have won that game; and then the Steelers would have lost to the Titans in the divisional round instead of losing to the Jaguars.
    ____________________________________________________________________________________________
    We don’t know that. The Steelers actually beat the Titans in the regular season. Good chance they would have beating them again and hosted in the afc title game in Pittsburgh.

  37. The more I see the rule in practice, the more I approve of it.

    It helps to think of it as the rule for securing possession of the ball in the three types of situations where you can make a catch:

    – in an open field running or standing catch, you secure the ball and take enough steps to be an active/defensible runner.

    – if you’re making a catch while falling to the ground, what criteria are available? You can’t make a football move. So the test is securing the ball all the way through your fall.

    – catching the ball on the way out of bounds also doesn’t allow you to do anything football-related once you’re out of bounds. So the criteria is two feet in bounds & securing the ball.

    Looked at that way, the rule is a reasonable look at three very different types of catches. Not sure I see a good alternative besides “ball secure and two feet or body down” and that seems like it would open the door to many cases of incompletion turning into fumbles.

  38. seabrawk12 says:
    February 8, 2018 at 7:03 am
    He’s right. That would have been a TD for a running back.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Would not of been overturned vs. any other team.

  39. Its actually been funny listening to Steelers fans cry about a single officiating call in a regular season game against the Patriots several weeks before the playoffs started as the reason they got bounced out of the playoffs by a team that then subsequently lost to the Patriots. History has actually indicated not just that the Steelers were not likely to beat the Patriots but that they werent even the team with the best chance of doing so. Yet they continue to obsess about the Patriots, a team they never even faced in the playoffs, in all their excuses and crying.

  40. Something else to consider is that the James play, and other similar end-of-game situations like Derek Carr at the end of the Cowboys game, the ball carrier made a choice.

    James could have just fallen down, and the Steelers could clock the ball and run one more play with some time to think about it. Carr could have just tried to run into the end zone or run out of bounds (it was third down & one time out left).

    Both guys seemed to really want to win their games right there, but it may not have been a good choice. If they’d made different choices, the rules never would have had the chance to “rob” them.

  41. kevpft says:
    February 8, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    Something else to consider is that the James play, and other similar end-of-game situations like Derek Carr at the end of the Cowboys game, the ball carrier made a choice.

    James could have just fallen down, and the Steelers could clock the ball and run one more play with some time to think about it.
    ————————

    They had about 5 minutes to think about during the review of that play. We all saw how well that worked out.

  42. Are we seriously still whining about this play? Butterfingers James couldn’t hold on to the ball and it was an incomplete catch. Enough. Let’s talk about the clown stomping Steelers got in front of 70,000 towel waving nimrods.

  43. kevpft says:
    February 8, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Looked at that way, the rule is a reasonable look at three very different types of catches. Not sure I see a good alternative besides “ball secure and two feet or body down” and that seems like it would open the door to many cases of incompletion turning into fumbles.

    —————
    Absolutely correct. Thats the other side of the coin that the complainers arent considering. If they change the rule then the first time the Patriots pick up a turnover on something that was previously an incomplete pass we will be right back on the wahmbulance. (Even if it happens 20 times before it involves the Patriots that will still be the trigger point) I think some of these guys need to back up and be careful what they wish for.

  44. i disagree with all of them, the james catch was made and the rules state once the plain of the goaline is broken, the play is over, there is no need to ‘finish the catch all the way to the ground, or control it all the way to the ground’, first, he already had one knee down.

    two, he had fully two hands completely gripping the ball, full possession breaking the plain…the rules clearly state that once a PLAYER goes over, thru, or past the opponents goaline, THE PLAY IS CONSIDERED OVER, therfore, there is no tacking on some rediculous complete the catch rule…there is nothing to complete, the play is dead the millisecond the ball broke the plain…

    but that wasnt done because it was going to cost the patriots to lose…so riveron took over to make sure that wouldnt happen, like he did three other times for the patriots during the season…

  45. ftomasic1961 says:
    February 8, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    i disagree with all of them, the james catch was made and the rules state once the plain of the goaline is broken, the play is over, there is no need to ‘finish the catch all the way to the ground, or control it all the way to the ground’, first, he already had one knee down.

    two, he had fully two hands completely gripping the ball, full possession breaking the plain…the rules clearly state that once a PLAYER goes over, thru, or past the opponents goaline, THE PLAY IS CONSIDERED OVER, therfore, there is no tacking on some rediculous complete the catch rule…there is nothing to complete, the play is dead the millisecond the ball broke the plain…

    but that wasnt done because it was going to cost the patriots to lose…so riveron took over to make sure that wouldnt happen, like he did three other times for the patriots during the season…
    ——————-

    You might be right, if you were talking about a runner.

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