More or less the last moment Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James took the field, he experienced close to the highest high you can in the game only to meet the lowest low about four minutes later. He thought he had scored the potential game-winning touchdown, but he saw it overturned in a manner that nearly universally drew at least some type of scorn.
He has conceded that that was a tough one to get over. While he had his time to speak after the game, saying that the whole thing made him feel sick, and even caused him to wonder just how much he even knows about the rules of the game, the reality of what transpired sunk in during the week.
He told Jeremy Fowler that he reflects on what more he could have done in that circumstance to take the game out of the hands of the officials. He could have made sure to re-establish himself as a runner with two feet down before attempting to score, for example, though that would have left the clock running if he failed to get in.
James said that he heard from a lot of friends and family in the days that followed the game, telling him to keep his head up, but, he said, “I don’t need that”. He took a more stoic approach. “It’s part of football” he said. At least for now it is. “You can learn from it. Can’t leave the game in the officials’ hands. Make the play more secure that it was”.
He said that he was so bombarded by messages after the game, including from people that he had not heard from in some time, and across social media, that he simply shut everything down. “It was too much”.
But he is ready to move on. “We won’t let it affect us”, he said, as the team prepared to face the Texans. After all, there is nothing that they can do about it now. There is no protest here that will be subject to later review to resume the game from that point, as there is in baseball. And, honestly, has that ever even happened?
The loss certainly hurt. It stripped them of control over the top seed in the AFC, and with the Patriots winning yesterday, they will be counting on Bryce Petty and the Jets to try to knock off New England one time. Even in such circumstance, the Steelers would still have to handle their own business with two more wins.
They do still have much to play for. With the Jaguars’ loss yesterday, they can at least clinch a first-round bye, something that they have not had since 2010, the last time they went to the Super Bowl. And this time, they will be extra conscious of making sure the officials cannot control their fate.