Steelers’ Jesse James was relieved the Patriots lost the Super Bowl

"I’m over it now, but it’s going to be a topic of conversation until the rule gets changed. Or it doesn’t."

Jesse James Pittsburgh Steelers
Jesse James catches – and then drops – a touchdown against the Patriots on Dec. 17. AP Photo/Don Wright

Jesse James was at the center of the one of the NFL’s most controversial rule arguments in the 2017 season, and it wasn’t until the Patriots lost the Super Bowl that he was able to get over it.

The Pittsburgh Steelers tight end saw his apparent go-ahead touchdown catch ruled incomplete when he didn’t fulfill the full terms of the NFL’s catch rule during the fourth quarter of a pivotal Week 15 matchup with the Patriots in December. New England came up with a game-winning interception two plays later.

The result was important in determining home-field advantage in the playoffs. The Patriots won both of their postseason home games, defending the AFC Championship. The Steelers fell at home in the divisional round of the playoffs to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Yet James, in a recent interview, said that he would’ve felt responsible had the Patriots won another Super Bowl. He admitted relief that the Patriots didn’t win.


“I don’t feel like I gave them a Super Bowl with that,” James told Josh Moyer of the Centre Daily Times. “So I’m over it now, but it’s going to be a topic of conversation until the rule gets changed — or it doesn’t.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged prior to the Super Bowl that he’s aware of the lingering rule controversy, and the league’s intention is to address it.

“The Competition Committee is going to be bringing this up in February and March,” Goodell said, “and I hope we’ll be able to address this in a way that will bring more clarity and, frankly, more excitement to this.”