PITTSBURGH — After winning Sunday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks 23-20 in overtime, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was still incensed about a call in the final seconds of regulation.
With time running out and the Seahawks driving for a game-tying field goal, quarterback Geno Smith completed a 12-yard pass to DK Metcalf. Cornerback James Pierre punched the ball out of Metcalf’s grasp, and wide receiver Freddie Swain recovered it inbounds with the clock running.
The Seahawks quickly picked up the ball, ran it to the line of scrimmage and spiked it with one second left, doing so as officials blew their whistles to signal for a review of the previous catch.
Tomlin was angry about the stoppage for the review.
“I hated it,” he said after the game. “I hated it. I cannot believe that game was stopped to confirm catch/no catch in that moment. That’s all I’m going to say.
“It was an embarrassment.”
After the review, officials determined it was a catch and there would be three seconds left on the clock instead of one. The Seahawks had time to spike it again and set up for Jason Myers‘ 43-yard field goal that sent the game to overtime.
Even without the review, the Seahawks would have had enough time to get off the field goal with the original one second left on the clock, but it would have been a more chaotic situation. Instead, the Seahawks were able to regroup, spike the ball again and then bring out the field goal unit for the game-tying field goal.
That wasn’t the only instance in which the Steelers were frustrated by Sunday’s officiating. Earlier in the fourth quarter, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger lost possession of the ball on a pump fake.
It was initially ruled an incomplete pass, but after a challenge by Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, officials determined it was a fumble.
“The way we saw it was it needed to be challenged,” Carroll said. “And the way they immediately saw it was I think he threw it. That’s what we’re hearing. So I had to go against what they were telling me. And their assessment happened in just a few — you know, 20 seconds or something like that.
“And we see real difficult replays go three, four, five minutes or something like that. Well, I thought this play, if given all of that time, we’d have a chance. And even though they were — the recommendation is you shouldn’t challenge this, I went against it and I threw the flag and stayed with it, you know.”
With the Tuck Rule — one that said any ball that left a quarterback’s hand was a forward pass — no longer in effect, once the ball starts coming back toward the quarterback’s body, the passing motion is over, and it’s therefore not a forward pass. Instead, it’s a fumble.
“I was told that even though the ball was going forward, my arm was going backwards,” Roethlisberger said. “I had to ask Josh Dobbs, who’s an aerospace engineer, how that works. He said it’s not possible. I can’t get fined for that because I’m just telling you what Dobbs said.”