Two days after the New England Patriots held on to a 27-24 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers courtesy of a reversal of a supposed touchdown catch by tight end Jesse James in the final minute of regulation, a couple Ravens players offered their thoughts on the catch/non-catch controversy.
Quarterback Joe Flacco agreed with the officials’ decision to overturn the initial ruling of a touchdown because James had lost control of the ball as he crossed the goal line into the end zone.
“I was arguing with guys that it was not a catch,” he said. “You try to make it really obvious for them. It is like, ‘OK, if you are making a catch when you go to the ground and when the ball hits the ground, it completely comes out,’ I don’t think any of us would argue that that is not a catch. So when it barely comes out and hits the ground, it is no different than if it came completely out. It is just not a catch. … You see posts all over the place, ‘It is when the ball crosses the line,’ but it all goes back to if the guy is in legal possession of the ball at the time. In that case, it is a shame, but because of the way the play unfolded, my opinion — and I think in the opinion of the rule book — he didn’t yet have established possession, and that is the bottom line. You can talk about it all you want and all that. I think they will move on from it pretty quickly. They are still a good football team, but that stuff happens throughout the course of 16 games. Crazy plays like that happen, and you just have to deal with it.”
The play has raised questions whether the rule regarding a legal catch needs to be clarified. Wide receiver Mike Wallace said he would not be in favor of further tinkering.
“I honestly thought it was better before,” he said. “It was fine before they even came up or made the rule. I think — however many years they had it before I was born — up until six years ago, whenever they changed it, I thought it was fine before. Tweaking it again? They’re probably just going to keep messing it up. So I think they should just leave it alone, live with the results. Just make sure you try to get up with the ball, just try not to let it move. I know it’s tough. It’s a lot easier said than done.”
Wallace joked that Flacco was the most passionate about the officials getting the correct call.
“Joe was adamant about it. ‘It’s not a catch,’ ” Wallace said. “Other people were like, ‘Man, that’s a catch. The ball broke the plane first, it’s a catch.’ Joe was just … He’s probably going to be a referee when he finishes. He was on it. He knew it wasn’t a catch. I thought it was a catch just because he crossed the plane. I didn’t think he caught it and went straight to the ground. I thought he moved and then … whatever. Long story short, I thought it was a catch. I was wrong. So all right. Whatever they do, they do. We just roll [with it], we just play.”