By Chris Emma—
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) – It seemed as if Steelers tight end Jesse James broke the plane for the go-ahead touchdown against the Patriots in Pittsburgh on Sunday, a play that would push his team atop the AFC standings and in the driver’s seat for the top seed.
But the league had other ideas. James had his touchdown stripped away after video review determined he didn’t “survive the ground” in his effort to score. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would throw an interception two plays later, and the Patriots would earn the pivotal victory.
Bears tight end Zach Miller saw the play occur and heard the explanation from NFL vice president of officiating Alberto Riveron. Miller has been there before, having the touchdown taken away on the play in late October that caused a severe knee injury and forced emergency vascular surgery.
Miller is now walking under his own power and spoke Thursday at Halas Hall after accepting the Good Guy Award for professionalism with the media. He was asked about the controversial play involving James and the Steelers.
“I feel for you, brother,” Miller said to James.
The NFL’s receptions rules have created far more controversy than clarity in recent years, with the plays involving Miller and James among those deserving scrutiny. Though James appeared to have completed a catch – even Riveron referred to that during his video explanation – the play was ruled an incomplete pass because James didn’t control the football while crossing the goal line.
The names of Miller and James join the likes of Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant in catch rule infamy.
“I feel like we probably need to bring a little bit of common sense to this thing,” Miller said.
Whether the league will move for more changes to the catch rules remains to be seen. Riveron is working his first year in this role. His predecessors, Dean Blandino and Mike Pereira, serve as officiating analysts for FOX Sports, with both agreeing that Miller’s play was so clear that it should’ve been overturned to a touchdown even if ruled incomplete on the field.
Count Miller among those wanting clarity regarding catches.
“I don’t even know what the language is at this point,” he said. “I don’t even know if the rule-makers know what the language is. But they have it there, and it’s in place, and I think they’re trying to follow it as closely as they can. I just don’t know if it’s what it needs to be.”