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NFL’s officiating supervisor explains overturning Steelers’ touchdown

Charean Williams

The NFL tweeted video of Al Riveron’s explanation on the reversal of Jesse James‘ touchdown catch. The league’s Senior Vice President of Officiating overturned the play after James failed to control the ball to the ground in the end zone.

Two plays later, Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception that secured the Patriots’ 27-24 victory.

It’s a rule Cowboys fans know too well, having had a similar catch by Dez Bryant overturned by replay in the 2014 playoffs against the Packers. Lions fans can explain it too, having had a game-winning catch by Calvin Johnson reversed on replay in a game against the Bears in 2010.

“Roethlisberger completes a pass to James, and James is going to the ground as he reaches the goal line,” Riveron said. “That’s the key here. He is going to the ground. By rule, to complete the process of the catch, he must survive the ground. By that, we mean he must maintain control of the football. . . . He does put the ball over the goal line extended. Once he gets there, he loses control of the football, and then the ball hits the ground. . . . So therefore, two things occur: He loses control of the football, and the ball touches the ground prior to him regaining control. Therefore, the ruling on the field of a touchdown was changed to an incomplete pass.”