I’m just going to go ahead and declare it now: the New England Patriots will repeat at Super Bowl champions in February.
Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field, Tom Brady’s Patriots stunned Ben Roethlisberger’s Steelers, 27-24, in a game for the ages.
With time ticking down and, trailing 27-24, Pittsburgh at the NE 10-yard line, Roethlisberger threw a quick pass over the middle to tight end Jesse James. James caught the ball as he was falling to the ground and, with one knee on the ground, lunged forward to reach across the goal line for a touchdown without being touched.
As he was falling to the ground, the ball came loose and he appeared to bobble it a bit. The call on the field was a Pittsburgh touchdown, but upon further review the play was overturned as an incomplete pass. Two plays later Roethlisberger threw an interception to end the game, handing New England the three-point victory and the upper hand in the race for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff picture.
The fact New England was able to pull off a win in this sort of fashion — with Jesse James’ touchdown being overturned and intercepting Ben Roethlisberger in the end zone as the final seconds tick off the clock — just shows me that everything is bouncing New England’s way this season.
The rule, of course, was correctly applied in the Week 15 end-of-game scenario at Heinz Field, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a blasphemous rule that all fans and NFL followers disagree with.
It’s been an issue ever since Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson was robbed of a game-winning touchdown reception against the Chicago Bears in 2010. It was an issue Saturday night in the Kansas City game, it was an issue multiple times this season, and it was an issue at the end of an otherwise epic Week 15 showdown between New England and Pittsburgh.
And, sadly, it will continue to be an issue for years to come because the NFL isn’t a fan of admitting when they are wrong. The rule will remain in place and will continue to rob receivers of potential game-winning touchdowns.
But, for now, we’ll all have to hope Pittsburgh sees a rematch with New England in the AFC playoffs in January. As of right now, I believe New England and Pittsburgh will grab the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the playoffs, meaning the only chance they have at meeting is if they both pull off victories in the AFC Divisional Round.
We could be setting things up for a second consecutive Conference Championship showdown between the two franchises.