Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James turned his phone off after his touchdown was overturned when it was ruled he didn't complete the process of the catch by controlling the ball to the ground late in the fourth quarter of the team's loss to the New England Patriots.
"Hearing from mostly family and friends, people I haven't talked to in awhile texting me," James said, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. "Social media was pretty crazy. I was getting overloaded. I quit looking after the first hour; it was too much."
He added: "A lot of [friends and family] said to keep your head up—I don't need that. It's part of football. You can learn from it. Can't leave the game in the official's hands. Make the play more secure than it was."
While the ruling was correct by the letter of the law, it has continued to be a controversial one because many fans and players don't believe a player should be punished for making a football move with the ball. On replay, James very clearly controlled the ball before lunging with his right hand to the goal line, when the ball came loose.
"I felt like he caught it and was making a football move," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said.
This particular type of ruling has been the subject of debate in many other instances, from Calvin Johnson having a touchdown overturned seven seasons ago—a decision that has caused a number of tweaks and changes to the catch rules since—to Dez Bryant having a crucial catch overturned on a fourth-down conversion late in the fourth quarter of a playoff game against the Green Bay Packers in 2015.
"I think the rule has been tweaked hundreds of times to the point where I think to exhaustion almost," Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell said, according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com. "And every week there's something that comes up."
Head coach Mike Tomlin, meanwhile, said the Steelers were preparing on the sidelines for the possibility that the touchdown would be overturned but would still be considered a catch, with the ball down at the 1-yard line.
"While they were in review, that was being discussed [by us] because if his knee was down in the field of play there would be a 10-second runoff," Tomlin noted, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "They’d spot the ball, wind the clock and we would be faced with a running clock in that circumstance…
"So obviously, 10-second runoff, running clock—that's the scenario that maintained most of our attention in terms of what could happen as they came out of review," he continued. "What did happen when they came out of review obviously was the least of the scenarios from my expectation."