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Steelers’ James glad NFL seeks ‘consistency’ in catch rule

August 12, 2018

Steelers tight end Jesse James pulls in a pass past linebacker Jon Bostic during practice Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018 at Saint Vincent College.

Jesse James sat with his Steelers teammates in a room Friday afternoon and watched his overturned catch against the New England Patriots play out in slow motion on a training video that emphasized the NFL rules changes for 2018.

On the video, the play was presented as a litmus test for determining what constitutes a legal catch this year. And it constituted a reversal from the instant replay decision that negated a touchdown for James in the pivotal final seconds of that December game. The Steelers’ 27-24 loss ended up costing them home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.

James’ reaction to seeing the play again on the big screen?

“It’s awesome,” he said, sarcasm dripping from his words.

James was asked whether it was frustrating to see that play used in the training video that will be viewed by every NFL team in training camp.

“I don’t know if you can tell, but I really don’t care that much,” James said. “It’s in the past. We lost our playoff game after that, so we didn’t really deserve a shot to go after the Super Bowl. As much pressure as people try to put on that catch, I moved past it and I’m far beyond it.”

James, though, said he is happy the NFL took steps toward eliminating confusion regarding what is considered a legal catch.

“I just hope the officials call it fair all the way around,” James said. “I think they struggled last year keeping the consistency through the catch, and I’m hoping this rule gives them an easier basis on what is a catch and what isn’t.”

The inconsistency was never more evident than in the Super Bowl. The Philadelphia Eagles had touchdown receptions by Corey Clement and Zach Ertz stand under replay review despite those catches involving potential loss of control or contact with the ground.

“A catch one week the next week wasn’t a catch,” James said. “I think it frustrated a lot of people throughout the league, and that’s why they made the adjustment.

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