I still don’t have any clue as to why everyone—including Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin—was so upset with the officials’ decision to review a catch by receiver D.K. Metcalf late in the fourth quarter of the game against the Seahawks at Heinz Field on Sunday Night Football.
Was it odd that the officials would review whether Metcalf, who caught a pass from quarterback Geno Smith and ran several yards before having the football dislodged by James Pierre (Seattle recovered, btw), actually completed the catch?
How did it hurt the Steelers? To reiterate, I’m still trying to figure that one out. After all, even before the officials decided to stop play and review Metcalf’s catch, Smith had already spiked the football with one second left on the game clock. It wasn’t as if this decision gave the Seahawks an unfair advantage; their kicker, Jason Myers, wouldn't have been forced to attempt his field goal against a running clock, otherwise.
Anyway, I’ll continue to ponder what exactly was so unjust about the officials’ decision to review the play—and how it adversely affected the Steelers—but I will say this: at least Pittsburgh overcame it this time, right?
I mean, we’re talking about a 2021 Steelers team that appeared to be extremely fragile and totally allergic to any sort of adversity over the first month or so.
It seemed like any inept call by an official—Melvin Ingram’s very questionable roughing-the-passer penalty near the end of the first half of a loss to the Bengals in Week 3 would be a good example—was enough to topple the Steelers’ house of cards. Joe Haden’s very questionable offsides penalty that wiped out a blocked field goal and a scoop and score by Minkah Fitzpatrick near the end of the first half of a loss to the Packers in Week 4 would be another good example.
Had the Steelers actually lost to Seattle on Sunday night—spoiler alert: they won, 23-20, in overtime—I’m sure folks would have pointed to that weird replay review as a big reason why.
Thankfully, we can just complain about how it COULD have hurt the Steelers but didn’t.
We can talk about how they overcame the officials this time around. We can attach an “Us against the world” meaning to whatever it is that the officials were trying to do.
The Steelers overcame the Seahawks AND the officials—even if they didn’t actually have to overcome the officials.
Whether it was a real slight or just perceived, the Steelers could have very easily folded at the end of regulation. In fact, I bet they would have as recently as two weeks earlier.
But they didn’t, and that’s good. Why? It’s probably going to happen again. Newsflash: officials often make bad calls during games. Good football teams are supposed to overcome such things. If a particular team can never seem to do so, it’s probably not very good.
Are the Steelers a good football team? It’s still way too early to tell if they’re even a mediocre one. However, they did overcome a weird decision by the officials on Sunday Night Football, one that may or may not have been unfair to them.
At least they acted like a good football team in that instance.
That’s a start.