The Patriots appeared to catch a break during the NFC Championship Game when Tom Brady fumbled on a quarterback sneak and Steelers nose tackle Javon Hargrave came out of the pile with it, but the officials ruled it Patriots ball. But the NFL says there’s no replay that can show whether the officials got the call right or wrong, and so they had to stick with the call on the field.

NFL V.P. of Officiating Dean Blandino said in a video released by the league that coming out of the pile with the ball isn’t proof of recovering the ball.

“Brady takes the ball, he sneaks for a first down, the ball is going to come loose,” Blandino said. “Eventually, Pittsburgh is going to come out of the pile. . . . Pittsburgh 79 does have the football. But that is not evidence of a clear recovery.”

As the NFL sees it, it’s possible that the Patriots actually recovered Brady’s fumble and the Steelers only grabbed it after the play was blown dead.

“If we don’t have video evidence of the Pittsburgh player actually controlling and possessing the ball before the pile ensues, we can’t overturn the ruling on the field,” Blandino said. “In that pile, the officials are telling the players, we’ve ruled down by contact. One player may have it, he may listen to the officials and let go, and another player may grab it.”