The “Game of the Season” doesn’t always live up to the hype. In fact, it almost never does. But yesterday it did. Patriots-Steelers was the game of the season. It had everything: two Hall of Fame quarterbacks trading shots, one-handed touchdown grabs, td celebrations, Gronk doing what Gronk does, Le’Veon Bell doing what he does, a last minute go-ahead touchdown, followed by another near last-minute touchdown, oh, and controversy. Plenty of controversy. And as usually happens in Games of the Season, the Patriots found a way to win.
There was so much in that game, that there’s barely enough time to cover it all. I could spend three hours on it today and not get to everything. In any other game, this moment with 30 seconds left in the first half is the only thing people would be talking about. Ben Roethlisberger to Martavis Bryant. More accurately, Ben Roethlisberger to Martavis Bryant’s right hand:
An absolutely incredible catch. And then JuJu Smith-Schuster capped it with a TD celebration that recreated his hit on Vontaze Burfict. You know, the hit that got him suspended. I love Smith-Schuster. I want him on my team, badly. Love his game. Love his energy. Love his attitude. But I don’t I love that. Probably shouldn’t be re-enacting a moment that got you suspended. But as wild as that touchdown and celebration was, it had nothing on the final minute of the game.
With just under four minutes left, the Patriots kick a field goal to get within five. Then they force a three and out, get the ball back, and go right down the field, 77 yards and cap it off with this Dion Lewis 8-yard touchdown run.
And then they chased that with a two-point conversion to take a 27-24 lead. Classic Patriots. Down for much of the game, finding a way to win, on the road, when they need it to take the lead for home field advantage. Absolutely vintage.
But the Steelers showed something yesterday. They weren’t intimidated by the Pats. They didn’t blink, even when they were without Antonio Brown. And they didn’t fold this time either. Because this time it was going to be different. They were outplaying the Pats, had in their house, top seed in the conference hanging in the balance; and they’re way to good, and way to proud to continue to be abused by Brady and Belichick. Roethlisberger was not going to let them lose. Not this time. And not in their house. And then he
Roethlisberger hit Smith-Schuster on a short crossing route, which turned out to be so much more. 69 yards down to the Patriots 10. Well within field goal range to tie it and perfectly placed to win it. Drive a stake in them. Finish it once and for all. And the Burgh parties all night long.
Man…if only it were that simple. Of course it wasn’t. It never is. Especially when these two get together. And deep down, given the way the Pats have dominated the Steelers in the Brady Belichick era, Steeler fan had to something horrible was going to happen. And it did!
Completion. Touchdown. Ball game. Ehhhhh, let’s not get into that just yet. Actually, upon review, not the ball game, not a touchdown and not a completion. And so it begins. A tradition unlike any other – discussing whether something was or wasn’t a catch.
Calvin, Dez, and now Jesse. And so many in between. It seems like every week there’s a “is it a catch” controversy. And almost none of them have a satisfactory ending.
So let’s turn to NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Al Riveron for an explanation.
It’s kind of awkward that the explanation for explaining why Roethlisberger’s pass wasn’t completed includes the phrase “Roethlisberger completes a pass.” And look, Riveron is right. And the officials got it right ultimately. According to the rule, that’s correct. It’s not a catch. But really, who the hell knows? Because it seems to change every week.
There isn’t a fan in the stands or watching a home who can tell me the definition of a catch. Shoot, I’m not sure how many players can tell me the definition of a catch. I don’t know how to define a catch. It’s not my job, but it is someone’s job and they’re not doing it very well if the players, coaches, and fans don’t know what is and isn’t a catch. And if the players don’t know, how the hell will anyone else know?
That “is a catch, isn’t it a catch” debate is so bad that it overshadows Roethlisberger’s INT. A truly brutal interception on the goal line when all the Steelers needed was a field goal to send it to overtime. Any other game and all we’re talking about is whether Ben should’ve just gone with the actual spike. Or whether you admire the guts of going for the fake spike. And debating who called for it. Any other game and we’re hyping the Pats for a great comeback and a gutsy win. And discussing whether the Steelers win that game if Antonio Brown is healthy. And counting down the days until these two teams meet again.
But instead, all we’re talking about is was it or was it not a catch. Great game. Terrible rule. If the rules requires that level of explanation, it’s not a good rule. Here’s a better one. If the player catches the ball, it’s a catch. Pretty simple. And something everyone understands. That’s how you know it’s a catch. If the guy catches it, it’s a catch.
Seems like every year, they try to explain or improve the rule and it doesn’t get any better. In fact, it’s getting worse. We get new phrases each time like, “football move” and now, “survive the ground.” For the last time, if the guy makes the catch, it’s a catch. That’s how you know. And You’re welcome.