Mike Tomlin: NFL’s catch rule needs to be re-examined in offseason |

Mike Tomlin: NFL’s catch rule needs to be re-examined in offseason

Joe Rutter

The interpretation of what constitutes a catch in the NFL was dissected again in the wake of Jesse James’ overturned touchdown catch Sunday night in the Steelers’ 27-24 loss to the New England Patriots.

As one of four coaches on the 11-member NFL Competition Committee, the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin has the power to clear up any uncertainty before the 2018 season.

Tomlin said Tuesday he plans to give it his best shot.

“I think that we all can acknowledge that all of this needs to be revisited,” Tomlin said. “Not just that play. We are having similar discussions week in and week out. As a member of the committee, I acknowledge that we’ve got our work cut out for us this offseason regarding a number of those things.”

Referee Tony Corrente, whose crew originally signaled for a touchdown, said the call was changed by replay head Al Riveron because the ball “did not survive the ground” as James dived for the goal line.

The competition committee made eight rules changes at the 2017 meeting. The next meeting is in March.

Tomlin has an ally in the coach of his upcoming opponent, the Houston Texans’ Bill O’Brien.

“There are a few rules that need to be looked at,” O’Brien said Tuesday. “I would say that that’s one of them. Surviving the ground is only applicable in the NFL. In college, high school, pee-wee football, it’s a different rule. I realize that we have a higher standard in the NFL, it’s a higher level of football, but I think when you’re in the heat of the moment and the way the game is played, guys are trying to make plays.

“I think we do need to discuss the rule. I’m sure guys have great points that could go either way.”

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has changed his opinion of the play in the days following the controversial call.

“Honestly, it makes less sense to me,” he said on his weekly 93.7 FM radio show. “After the game, I was on board. I understand the catch rule, completing it all the way to the ground. I’ve seen it happen many times.

“The more I’ve watched it, the more I’ve felt like he caught it, brought it into his body and then reached out. When he hit the ground, it came loose, but I felt the reach is the credit of a football move.”

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers tight end Jesse James looks at the big screen in disbelief after the Patriots' Duron Harmon grabs an interception to end the game Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, at Heinz Field.
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