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Chiefs may have beaten Steelers in 2017 had new catch rule existed

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Throwing it back to Demetrius Harris in the end zone of Week 6 last season.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs
“Hey, give me that,” said Demetrius Harris, probably.
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

This was a good, interesting find by AP reader Daniel Harms on Monday.

Refreshing you on the scenario

Week 6 of last year is a long time ago now, so here is a refresher on the play we’re talking about:

The 5-0 Chiefs trail the 4-1 Steelers, 12-3, with just under 13 minutes left in the fourth quarter at Arrowhead Stadium. Its fourth-and-2 at the Pittsburgh 4-yard line, and head coach Andy Reid opted to keep the offense on the field.

Alex Smith, working out of the shotgun, rolls to his right and throws on the run to Demetrius Harris, who catches the football, has two feet down and appears to make a “football move,” which in this case would be tucking the ball in.

The old rule vs. the new rule

By the standard of the old NFL catch rule, Harris is stripped in the end zone and the play is incomplete.

By the standard of the new NFL catch rule, Harris meets all three requirements: 1) control 2) two feet or another body part down and 3) a “football move.”

What it would have meant in the Week 6 game

The Chiefs would have cut the Steelers’ lead to 12-10 with plenty of time left rather than turning the ball over on downs, and perhaps the game’s dynamic would have been altered favorably for Kansas City.

What actually happened

The Chiefs were able to force the Steelers to punt on the ensuing possession, then scored a touchdown via a 57-yard catch from De’Anthony Thomas on their next offensive drive to cut the lead to 12-10.

On the Steelers’ next possession, the ball went off Phillip Gaines’ face and into the hands of Antonio Brown for a 51-yard touchdown. The Chiefs managed a field goal, but it wasn’t enough as they took their first loss of the season—a 19-13 final.

For what it’s worth

New ESPN rules analyst Jeff Triplette (you may recognize the name) made the incomplete call on Harris.