PITTSBURGH – The NFL has admitted that the call made by referee Pete Morelli, who overturned Troy Polamalu's interception, was a mistake.
This is what NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira released on Monday afternoon:
"The definition of a catch – or in this case an interception -- states that in the process of making the catch a player must maintain possession of the ball after he contacts the ground. 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."
The NFL had told the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier in the day that it supported Morelli's call, but that it had not officially ruled on it.
The Steelers vowed then that the league had not heard the end of their complaint. Pereira released his opinion later in the day.
Polamalu's potential interception was made with 5:26 left in the Steelers' 21-18 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Polamalu made a diving catch, but knocked the ball loose with his knee before getting completely up off the ground. Morelli judged this to be an incompletion and the Colts went on to score eight points and cut the lead to 21-18.
The Colts eventually had a chance to tie the game but missed a 46-yard field goal attempt with 17 seconds left.