While it seemed clear to everyone else on the field, as well as fans in attendance and those watching Seahawks-Steelers on TV, that D.K. Metcalf had caught Geno Smith's pass before fumbling it on Sunday night, officials decided the play needed reviewed. Upon further review, they confirmed that Metcalf had indeed caught the ball before fumbling it after he made contact with Steelers defensive back James Pierre. After a lengthy pause to review the play, Seattle spiked the ball before sending the game into overtime on Jason Myers' 43-yard field goal.
The fact that his team won the game 23-20 in overtime did little to soothe Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who offered a blunt response when asked about the officials' handling of Metcalf's reception.
"I hated it. I just ... I hated it," Tomlin said. "I cannot believe that game was stopped to confirm catch [or] no catch in that moment. That's all I'm going to say."
After Metcalf's fumble, the Seahawks had quickly ran it to the line of scrimmage and spiked it with one second left. But that's when officials blew their whistles for the review, resulting in the need for another Seahawks spike.
As a follow-up, Tomlin was asked what was the explanation he received from the officials as to why the play was being review.
"That's all I'm going to say," Tomlin responded. "It was an embarrassment."
According to the NFL rulebook, a receiver must perform "any act common to the game" after securing control of the ball in order for it to be deemed a completion. Metcalf clearly had secured the ball before making several football moves prior to fumbling the ball.
Why in the world is this a replay review? #Seahawks— Billy Heyen (@BillyHeyen) October 18, 2021
While there is nothing stopping the officials from challenging anything they are uncertain of, there are replay officials whose in-game responsibilities includes assisting on possible replays. Given the clarity of Metcalf's reception, it was surprising that a replay official did not stop the on-field officials from reviewing what was clearly a completed pass.
Expect Tomlin to discuss the matter with the rest of the league's Competition Committee during the annual owners meeting this spring.