The Pittsburgh Steelers entered this season looking to prove that team unity is a greater factor to winning games than is pure talent. So far, things are not going well following an 0-2 start, even if their first two games are among the hardest on their entire 16-game schedule.
One thing that is not in the Steelers’ control is the fact that a new rule was put on the books for the 2019 season that allows pass interference calls to be reviewed. This afternoon, they came up on the short end of that stick.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll actually attempted to challenge pass interference calls twice in the game, losing the first one handily on a play he never should have challenged in the first place. The second one, however, was a big one. He got a defensive pass interference call added against Terrell Edmunds intended for Tyler Lockett on second and 20.
The reversal added 38 yards, putting the Seahawks on the Steelers’ 35-yard line, and Russell Wilson found rookie wide receiver D.K. Metcalf for the 28-yard score over the top of Edmunds three plays later, which gave Seattle its first two-possession lead of the game, proving to be all they needed, at 28-19.
Head coach Mike Tomlin was asked about the pass interference call being added after the game. “I disagreed with it”, he told reporters. “I don’t believe any of us have an understanding of what the standards are once those things go to replay. I don’t know”.
The penalty occurred with 8:54 to play in the fourth quarter. “After review, the defender materially affected the receiver. It is defensive pass interference”, the official ruled. It’s not entire” clear where the “materially affected” language comes from, but the standard for replay on pass interference this year was supposed to be significand hindrance.
Most Steelers fans will argue that Locket was not significantly hindered from making the play, enough to throw a flag when there was none. I think there’s no question that there was certainly pass interference on the play itself, but whether or not it amounted to the severity that merits reversing a call on the field is a more complicated answer.
“It does look like pass interference”, Dean Blandino said during the broadcast. “Is it that big Saints-Rams play? No, but this is the world we’re in now. There was contact early, and he did appear to grab the jersey of the receiver”.
Ultimately, I’m okay with the way it played out because I think it’s clear there was a penalty that occurred. Just because it went against the Steelers doesn’t change how I view the rule. It’s unfortunate and almost directly led to a seven-point swing, but as Blandino said, this is the world we’re in now. Unless the league decides not to extend the rule beyond 2019.