Pete Morelli was wrong, according to the NFL:
The NFL said the referee made a mistake: Troy Polamalu caught the ball.
The league acknowledged that referee Pete Morelli erred when he overturned on replay Polamalu’s interception of a Peyton Manning pass in the playoff game between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis.
Mike Pereira, the league’s vice president of officiating, said in a statement that Morelli should have upheld the call, made with 5:26 left in Pittsburgh’s win over the Colts.***
“The definition of a catch — or in this case an interception — states that in the process of making a catch a player must maintain possession of the ball after he contacts the ground,” Pereira said.
“The initial call on the field was that Troy Polamalu intercepted the pass because he maintained possession of the ball after hitting the ground. The replay showed that Polamalu had rolled over and was rising to his feet when the ball came loose. He maintained possession long enough to establish a catch. Therefore, the replay review should have upheld the call on the field that it was a catch and fumble.
“The rule regarding the performing of an act common to the game applies when there is contact with a defensive player and the ball comes loose, which did not happen here.”
Good for them. I was convinced they were going to weasel around and try to justify that call, when it clearly was something Morelli just flat-out made up on the spot.
Now fix the officiating problem. I don’t know how many billions you folks make a year in the NFL, but I am wagering you can afford full-time refs like other leagues.