Jesse James Feels ‘Sick’ Over Non-Touchdown: ‘I Guess I Don’t Know A Lot Of Things About Football’

There are many ways to describe the emotion that can be attributed to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ locker room in the wake of their loss last night stemming from the league’s decision to overturn a 10-yard touchdown reception by tight end Jesse James. One of those ways is decidedly not ‘mixed’.

Virtually to a man, the Steelers are outraged. About the catch rule in theory, about the ruling on the specific play in practice. The bottom line is that they don’t agree. Even Ryan Shazier, who was in the stadium last night in what is hopefully a good sign regarding his recovery, weighed in.

Perhaps nobody was as direct as the player who helped set up that play, rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who’s 69-yard catch-and-run on the first play of the drive put them on the 10-yard line. “It’s sucks, honestly”, he told Jeremy Fowler. “That was a bullshit-ass call by the refs”.

I think that can probably do well to sum up what most of the fan base is thinking, as well as many others around the league. Every time a situation like this comes up, the call is renewed for the catch rule to be changed.

“I feel like he had ball control, he was in”, Smith-Schuster said. “In a game like that, when you go down and you finish the game like that, and then — boom — momentum, and the next thing you know [the referee] said he didn’t have control of the ball. Nobody touched him”.

The man at the center of all this, James himself, said that he is “sick about it”, and added that he’ll “be thinking about this the rest of the night”. Frankly, I can’t blame him, regardless of what one feels about the call itself. Either you are outraged about the ruling, or about the rule, or just upset that you couldn’t retain control of the ball ‘surviving the ground’.

“I had my knee down, turned up the field. Whether they consider that a football move or not is up to them to decide. I guess I don’t know a lot of things about football. I thought it was a touchdown for sure”, he said.

And therein lies the problem. If even the players are repeatedly saying that they don’t understand the rule, then the obvious solution should be to simplify the rule. If a player is actively lunging for the goal line with possession of the football, then consider it a ‘football move’ that establishes a completed catch.

Even some of the New England Patriots players, however, acknowledged that it was all very close. Devin McCourty conceded that he is biased, but Eric Rowe said “it could have went either way”.

David DeCastro knew that “it’d be tough to overturn” the call on the field of a touchdown, but added, “I understand it’s tough for [the officials]. I’m not criticizing them. I’m just saying it’s a tough way to lose”.

As the millions of members of Steeler Nation groan in agreement.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • DAWAARE

    just wished he held on to the ball till the end
    anyway it was a great game and steelers were missing two of our best players
    just hope steelers gets BYE and brown can comeback healthy

  • mrallnite111 .

    This the 2nd time the passive/aggressive TightEnd had a TD reverse against the Patriots ( with the 1st being in the playoffs last season ). Now had he stayed on his feet, he would have walk in ..

    I just don’t understand the pass to Heyward Bey. WHY??????

  • Conserv_58

    That situation proved, beyond the shadow of doubt, that the NFL has a huge problem with the interpretation of that rule. It’s clearly too vague and thus causing it to come down to one person’s opinion and interpretation over another’s. It’s the NFL’s incessant meddling with the rules that is making the game unbearable to watch for so many fans. I can say without hesitation or reservation that this game only added fuel to the belief that the patriots receive the benefit of the officiating.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Here is where I run into the issue Matthew: This is the relevant wording in the catch rule for when a player is going to the ground:

    “If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball until after his initial contact with the ground,”

    For me the key word is “initial” and how they define it. It is very clear in the clip of the catch that James has the ball and pulls it into his chest while his knee and shin are touching the ground. That certainly seems to cover the ‘initial’ part covered in the ruling. He then goes on to sort of lunge and reach out to score and when he hits the ball bobbles.

    So for anyone who agrees they applied the rule correctly I would like to know why his knee being down didn’t count as initial contact. I don’t see in the rule where it says your upper body has to touch first or anything like that. There is also no clock on amount of time you have to demonstrate control. I gave this example yesterday and will give it again today.

    Lets say that same exact thing happens but instead of James reaching out after he pulls it in he lays there for a split second and then does the same thing. Would that have been long enough control and if so why? Because of the split second or because more of his body was touching the ground creating ‘initial’ contact? I have talked to a few people who say this rule is very clear and that it wasn’t a catch but none of them have answered these questions I have.

    The other issue I have is how long the refs took to make the decision. The call on the field was a TD and you are supposed to have indisputable evidence to overturn it. The idea of indisputable should be something clear and quickly identifiable and that flat out wasn’t the case last night. It gives you the impression that the refs went looking for a reason to overturn the call.

    There are 3 or 4 big plays or sequences that cost us this game as well as the penalty but the penalty is the only one that makes you feel dirty about losing.

  • Kevin Artis

    Ridiculous rule. I remember when two feet down, knee on elbow was down and crossing the plane was possession touchdown

  • ryan72384

    Jesse just kind of panicked when he could have just stayed on his feet and walked in..lol. Lunged for the goaline thinking he had too and blatantly lost control. I probably would have panicked too in that situation. Oh well he was just trying to make a play but all he had to do was turn and score. Still don’t think there was quite enough to over turn the call of TD on the field.

  • Chad Weiss

    In the eyes of everyone that’s a touchdown catch but the NFL rule book says different. I honestly thought they would over rule it from the time they showed first replay so I wasn’t supposed one bit.Its unfortunate and this rule has become the exact reason everyone has been upset because nobody knows what a catch is anymore. If you all think we got robbed go look at jets vs Pat’s a CPL weeks ago and they turned a what should have been a touchdown to a safety and stole game from new York. That’s two games Pat’s won on “judgement calls”

  • NCSteel

    I can tell you this…
    Boycotting if the Pats go to the Super Bowl… I’ll be calling for this here all week.
    Boycott the game, boycott the games advertisers (go to their competition, if possible). The NFL hears nothing but the sound of cash registers, make em stop ringing if you want their attention and things to change.
    Boycott, boycott the Patriots playoff games and certainly if they make it to the super bowl.
    Tell everyone you know EVERYWHERE to do the same

  • Jacob

    It wasn’t even “in the act of catching a pass.” He had already hauled it in.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Phil –

    You make some very good points. I’ve seen WR’s dive backwards for a catch, land on their backs in bounds, bobble the ball on their chest upon impact and then quickly secure it (and the ball never touches the ground because it’s resting on their chests), and THEN a CB reaches down and swats it loose.

    How do we know if they had control before the pass was broken up? What’s the time required for control?

    Same question when a WR catches the ball on a crossing route, two feet hit the ground, and as soon as he turns upfield he gets hit.

    How long does he have to turn before they consider it a football move? What is the exact time requirement?

    Answer: THERE ISN’T ONE.

    It’s a “judgement call.” The refs on the field ruled Jesse James secured the pass, got one foot down, then one knee down, then turned and reached for the goal line, then got one elbow down. Touchdown.

    How do you overturn that call with a video review at headquarters? What standard are you referencing? Is there a time rule in the manual? .3 seconds? .5 seconds?

    Last year in the playoffs Dez Bryant caught a pass and took 2 steps, and then dove. If he gets hit and fumbles there, and the opponent recovers in bounds, the refs are calling that a catch with 2 feet down and a football move. But if he hits the ground untouched suddenly he didn’t have possession? What if he takes 3 steps (going to the ground) then the ball comes loose when he hits the ground? What if he takes 4 steps (going to the ground) and the ball comes loose when he hits the ground? Is it steps or time lapse?

    Sounds confusing huh? Sounds “inconclusive” huh?… I thought the ruling on the field is supposed to stand in those cases?

  • blackandgoldBullion

    KUdos . START A Movement. Make the rules simple.

  • Chad Weiss

    Ha if that was Patriots that did that the refs would have said the player gave himself up ruling himself down before he lost control. The NFL put the games in refs hands and let them make judgement calls . Im not calling conspiracy by no means as I don’t believe in all that jazz but how was their no call on Bryant one handed touchdown while defender was holding other arm as clear as day?Bottom line Steelers beat themselves this game and OMG I’m glad this wasn’t the playoffs. The better team lost tonight

  • Chad Weiss

    Dwrong go back five weeks to jets game. Jets would have beaten Patriots on tight end diving towards pylon. The ball goes over then out of Jenkins hands through edge of endzone and they called touchdown. They then review it change to a safety and jets lose game they were gonna win

  • MJK

    ball in control broke the plain over, We will beat them in Foxboro, or ravens will beat them in Foxboro and we will beat the ravens in Pittsburgh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • nikki stephens

    I would like to elaborate and second the opinion / post of Phil Brenneman (which is a paraphrase of my posts last evening). According to the rules, the officials have not recognized the knee/ shin as “initial” contact with the ground. Which right there, demonstrates they blew the call. Because there is “video proof” of that act. Every fan read the Q&A of the post game official crew. The answers do not match with what we see. For all those unclear, I will give you 2 hypothetical examples that would match the officials ruling and rectify the review and support the call being overturned.

    hypothetical 1) Jesse James catches AND STANDS UPRIGHT the whole time. He stretches, catches with 2 hands, and pivots and turns. His initial contact is what we see. (even though there is no pic I see, of JJ right hand not under or b/w ball and ground.)

    hypothetical 2) The ball is thrown farther outside and nearly perpendicular on the goal line, Jesse james lunges / stretches outward and NEVER brings it in the mid section. The downing of the knee happens too. BUT HE NEVER BRINGS IT DOWN TO ABDOMEN with 2 hands. Upon that stretch (which he would be in the air) and momentum he has hands on the ball but the act of securing it and landing causes the ball to be loose.

    Neither of these happened. If I knew how I would snap a pic of each step WHICH DID HAPPEN.
    1) reaches outward and catches with 2 hands
    2) brings ball down to mid section and NEVER demonstrates any “complete loss of control” ( the answer the crew chief game gave in post game interview).
    3) Knee / shin / rear are “down” and has always been recognized as down in every other NFL game.
    4) within a millisecond the act of the lunge begins where he stretches still untouched.
    5) has control easily past or “breaks the plane”
    6) comes down about 1 -2 feet past goal line where left hand is off the ball and ball turns or spins. However no proof (i have seen) that right hand still isn’t under it.
    7) Never has lost complete control or picture according to terrible answer in post game Q&A with officiating crew.

    But please fellow members understand hypothetical 1&2 which WOULD support (and match) the officials answers. However, that didn’t happen. They blew it and gave the game away. YES, they gave it away.

  • Ryan Alderman

    Not me, I was more pissed that we had the game won and then yanked out from underneath us on a call I don’t agree with.

  • Ryan Alderman

    Yep, another one like it. And another BS call.

  • Ryan Alderman

    How does one disagree with this assertion? They’ve won TWO games THIS year on this BS call…not to mention the NFL personally destroyed all the evidence from Spy Gate personally. I can never forget that.

  • Ryan Alderman

    You’re exactly correct. The initial contact was his knee touching. He lunged and makes a move towards the goal line, crosses the goal line, then the ball spins in his hand. TD!! And even then did the ball even hit the ground regardless? Who’s to say his hand wasn’t underneath it as it spun around? And is there evidence to without a doubt reverse the call on the field of a TD? It’s total BS. I feel sick about it.

  • Ryan Alderman

    Me, too.

  • razaard2

    I actually agree with the initial contact thing. The rule is stupid, but even by the stupid rule that was a TD

  • WB Tarleton

    With all due respect, most of you just do not know the rules. It is a terrible rule but the call was the correct one.

    The rule: “Item 1. Player Going to the Ground. A player is considered to be going to the ground if he does not remain upright long enough to demonstrate that he is clearly a runner. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball until after his initial contact with the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.”

    James clearly drove the point of the ball into the ground at first contact. The ball then spins (you can see the threads rotate 1/4 turn) from the contact, indicating loss of possession.

  • WB Tarleton

    You go off at number 3.

    Knee/shin being down does not indicate that the catch is completed. For example, on a sideline play, if you get both feet down with possession but then bobble it on the way down to the ground, it is incomplete.

    5) “Breaks the plane” is a fumble rule, not a catch/no catch rule. If JJ had held onto the ball and broke the plane and then a defender slapped it away, it would have been a TD.
    6) You are looking at it backwards. When JJ’s arms hit the ground, he clearly drives the point of the ball into the ground, which causes it to spin, indicating a loss of possession. Play over. Incomplete. It does not matter if his hands remained around it or not or if it touched the ground a second time.

  • nikki stephens

    but your rebuttal isn’t what happened.
    “For example, on a sideline play, if you get both feet down with
    possession but then bobble it on the way down to the ground, it is
    incomplete”
    He didn’t bobble it. Had it firmly. If he was touched and then stretched, he would of course, been ruled down because of the knee down. And everyone would of agreed

  • nikki stephens

    No, you don’t know the rules, does he 1) catch 2) secure it 3) knee down – catch

  • WB Tarleton

    That’s NOT the rule:

    “Item 1. Player Going to the Ground. A player is considered to be going to the ground if he does not remain upright long enough to demonstrate that he is clearly a runner. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball until after his initial contact with the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.”

  • nikki stephens

    But he does 1) A player is considered to be going to the ground if he does not remain
    upright long enough to demonstrate that he is clearly a runner.

    ACTUAL : JJ catches in upright position w/ outstretched hands

    2) If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent) he must maintain control of the ball until after his initial contact
    with the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone.

    ACTUAL : Is upright, outstretched, moves both hands securely to abdomen. knee down …in order for your logic he would have to be bobbling or not in control during “initial” contact.
    Hence, that contact with knee and shin would NOT count as “initial” contact. Also you have to rewrite rules which state that a knee and shin count as a player being down. Can’t have it both ways.

  • Brendan

    Based on the dumb rules it’s probably not a catch. However, there are no shots that prove one or two of his fingers aren’t under the ball through the entire process. That’s why it shouldn’t have been overturned.

  • nikki stephens

    the discrepancy is this: BY THE OWN OFFICIALS POST GAME WORDS, they DON”T RECOGNIZE first contact of knee/shin which zeros WHOLE conversation of 1) stretched catch w/2 hands 2) ball moved to midsection with 2 hands 3) is control not demonstrated? I say the video is proof – no doubt.

  • nikki stephens

    or I will say this, where is the video proof that the first contact with ground there was NO control so as to allow or PERMIT the “initial” contact the time JJ body is landing over the goal line.

  • WB Tarleton

    1) He never “demonstrates that he is clearly a runner.” He begins going down immediately. He is literally going down when the ball is hitting his hands. He was nowhere near “upright.”

    2) Initial contact is the entire body, not an arm, knee, etc. When his torso and arms hit the ground, the nose of the ball gets driven into the ground. That is FINE if he keeps complete control but he did not. The ball spins, as you can even see the threads rotate. You are arguing something you know nothing about.

    The rules for a player being down have little to do with an actual “catch” when going down to the ground if you bobble the ball after. You still have to “survive the ground”.

  • Canadiana

    If you look at Brandin cooks game winning touchdown earlier this year against the Texans there is literally no way you can rule James catch was not a touchdown

  • nikki stephens

    Initial contact is the entire body – really? interesting never seen that

  • WB Tarleton

    Uh, yes.

    You have never seen a player going down with BOTH FEET IN and have it called incomplete when he bobbles it out of bounds when the rest of his body hits the ground? Do they count the feet as “initial contact” or make him retain possession when the rest of the body comes down?

    Do you even watch football?

  • nikki stephens

    your trying so hard to tell us what we see, didn’t happen. And the assumption that knee contact didn’t count because it wasn’t established is not even a discussion or explanation.

  • WB Tarleton

    That makes my argument, not yours.

  • nikki stephens

    your making things up, “entire body” your reading and officials are acting as one of these 2 hypotheticals took place.

    hypothetical 1) Jesse James catches AND STANDS UPRIGHT the whole
    time. He stretches, catches with 2 hands, and pivots and turns. His
    initial contact is what we see. (even though there is no pic I see, of
    JJ right hand not under or b/w ball and ground.)

    hypothetical 2) The ball is thrown farther outside and nearly perpendicular on the goal
    line, Jesse james lunges / stretches outward and NEVER brings it in the
    mid section. The downing of the knee happens too. BUT HE NEVER BRINGS
    IT DOWN TO ABDOMEN with 2 hands. Upon that stretch (which he would be
    in the air) and momentum he has hands on the ball but the act of
    securing it and landing causes the ball to be loose.

  • nikki stephens

    no, telling you the officials didn’t recognize the “initial” contact correctly.

  • nikki stephens

    So the contradiction is this, if any contact is made with JJ and touches him, he is down with knee as down and no advancement. Ball on 2 foot line and no “fumbling or advancing the ball”.

  • I4giveSteelers

    BB was about to be sacked

  • Riverstko

    I’m at work and i feel Sick!

  • NimbusHex

    He has to let it go, just like the rest of the team. If you do your job, you’ll get another crack at it.

  • nikki stephens

    Hey let’s just agree on this, read the crapente Q and A above. Zero in on Q1, 2, 3 answers. They aren’t what happened. They are wrong recollections, readings, or rule reasoning. HIs knee was first contact
    with the ground which he survived cleanly, and secondly, if he lost “complete” control – show me a picture. Show me proof.

    If you can’t accurately and truthfully explain what actually happened then, you have NO BUSINESS OVERTURNING THE CALL. NONE.

    And that should be agreeable to all the “want to be fairminded high and mighty” trying to squeeze logic out of this travesty.

  • Darth Blount 47

    What I find tragically humorous, is that it isn’t as though this is ONLY a “homer” reaction, like you guys were trying to make it out to be on Twitter. This isn’t a case of “Steeler players and fans feel one way because they are emotionally invested,” and “Rational, logical, uninvested objective people who know the rules feel another way,” argument.

    Case in point, just a SMALL sampling of NFL player reaction on Twitter last night:

    – Torrey Smith (former RAVEN): “That rule is trash, BTW.”
    – Greg Jennings: “How do these mindbogging, game saving plays only seem to happen for the @Patriots ???”
    – Reggie Bush: “Terrible call by refs at the end of the Steelers game that was a catch.”
    – Mike Vick: “Clean catch, with both feet and knee down (which is considered a football act). The second the ball crosses the goal line = TOUCHDOWN.”
    – Kirk Cousins to 106.7 The Fan on the NFL’s catch rule… “I’m not satisfied…. I don’t understand the rule…I just don’t understand how long do you have to hold the ball.”
    – Chris Cooley: “Jesse James catch overturned is a hard rule to comprehend. That’s a catch all day. Then fake spike/slant is insane. Tough way to lose.”

  • taztroy43

    So that rule should of applied to the patriots against the Texans when wr cooks made the game “winning” td…..look at that play and tell me why that was called a complete pass and James td wasnt????? The refs were clearly one sided….did you see the blatant hold on Bryant on his TD catch that was not called? I was at the game and we ALL saw it!!! James made a football move after his knee, foot, and hip were down (he extended to get past the goal line) so that should =TD…..they made the initial call right….but they HAD to overturn it…probably to get the game to OT…i was there and it was awesome and very frustrating because of what unfolded at the end… nothing we can do now..Go Steelers!

  • nikki stephens

    no better yet, we all forgive or over look the gronk last TD taunting to davis. Should of had the ball plus 15 or ? But because of the shuster play we all forget it.

  • 2winz

    i dont like the ruling either but jay freakin cutler had a td pass called back and he went and scored again! theres no excuse for us to have not won that or at the very least tie the game. theres no excuses for throwing an int.

  • GravityWon

    Only stupid people think this rule is clear. Anyone with a smidgeon of sense knows there is some ambiguity.

  • GravityWon

    Why hasn’t the NFL or referees released better angles showing that the ball touched the ground. You’d think they would want to prove it touched if that was the case.

    Has anyone seen clips with indisputable evidence?

  • GravityWon

    I’m in on that

  • GravityWon

    This is the definition of ambiguous. INITIAL contact with the ground was his leg and he still had control of the ball. Later his elbow hit and caused an apparent bobble.

  • GravityWon

    What does INITIAL mean to you? Apparently it means something different to us.

  • GravityWon

    I don’t believe it. So it’s a fumble unless a runner is completely down now too?

  • taztroy43

    Trust me I Noticed and all of us fans were screaming for a flag….but it’s the patriots so no penalty….i just couldn’t believe how the refs screwed us at home….freaking Brady was all friendly with the ref before the game…

  • westcoasteeler

    It’s hilarious and ironic to hear Cheatriots fans talk about the letter of the law.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    I don’t think the rule is that hard to understand. It bothers me that the Steelers pass catchers aren’t clear about the responsibility to maintain the ball throughout the process of going to the ground. That is information that is critical to the execution of their job that they should know and understand it..

  • WB Tarleton

    When his body initially hits the ground. Not his first body part. That’s a foot. Plays do not when a foot hits the ground.

  • WB Tarleton

    Hate the rule. Not the refs.

    Check out the Blandino and Pereira explanation posted on this website. Clear as day.

  • WB Tarleton

    And all the experts disagree with you and agree with my interpretation.

  • GravityWon

    His knee hit first. Definitely prior to when the elbow hit and jarred the ball loose.

  • Russell Stauver

    Two wrongs don’t make it right. Its still the wrong call regardless.

  • Russell Stauver

    Again, two wrongs don’t make it right.

  • Russell Stauver

    Is this verbatim from the rule book or just your self imposed wording?

  • Russell Stauver

    If you re-look at the footage, you will find your first point to be bogus. Tell me, if a receiver catches the ball, runs 10 yards and dives into the end zone and loses the ball due to the ball hitting the ground, is it a touchdown. JJ had the ball, made a football move with control of the ball, and broke the plane of the goal line. Where in the rule book does it say “entire body” needs to be down. You are absolutely full of it.

  • NCSteel

    Simple, if the Steelers miss out on the Super Bowl as a direct result of the consequences of that game, ( not if they lose one of their last games ),
    The Super Bowl Partygoers at my house will be treated to highlights of Steeler Super Bowls of the past (I’ve checked, theres hours of them on you tube).
    Boycott advertisers products when possible by using competitors products ( do not hurt our economy, use good sense).
    Steelers Nation is large, very large. For every Steeler fan to abandon the Super Bowl would put a significant dent in the overall viewership rating.
    Use social media to explain that unless the rules are changed and most importantly, evenly applied, there will be more of the same. They did nothing in the past because they just waited for the outrage to die down. It never affected their bottom line so why change anything ?
    Good sound thinking on their part. Time for some on our part.