Skip to main content

Dolphins still steaming about controversial loss to Steelers

DAVIE, Fla. -- Upon further review, the officiating crew in Sunday's Miami Dolphins-Pittsburgh Steelers contest made only one mistake on the game's pivotal play.

That's small consolation to the Dolphins, who believe they were robbed of a win, which instead turned into a 23-22 loss.

"For the game to end like that and us to get the raw end of a deal, it hurts," Miami safety Yeremiah Bell said.

For more on the Miami Dolphins, check out the latest from our bloggers.

The Dolphins (3-3) were angry because an erroneous touchdown call by the head linesman might have cost them the game. Miami linebacker Ikaika Alama-Francis emerged from an end-zone pile with the ball lost by Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with 2:30 left.

A replay review determined that Roethlisberger's touchdown was instead a fumble at the half-yard line, but because the video didn't provide clear evidence as to which team recovered the ball, the Steelers kept it and kicked the winning field goal on the next play.

Because the touchdown was overturned, only the video review could determine which team recovered the fumble. Any ruling on the field as to which team recovered was irrelevant, because the play is considered over when a touchdown signal is given, and the officials don't continue to officiate.

Regarding the fumble recovery, conclusive video evidence is required.

"There must be a clear recovery by the defense in order to reverse to a touchback," the league's Instant Replay Manual says. "If there is a pileup and you can't see who recovered the ball, or a long delay with players stopping before the ball is recovered, the offense retains possession."

Various Steelers players claimed that Roethlisberger, offensive tackle Jonathan Scott or guard Doug Legursky recovered the ball. The Dolphins all said it was Francis.

If the linesman hadn't signaled a touchdown, the scrum would have determined possession.

Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington argued that the linesman shouldn't have been so quick to signal a touchdown. That way, the officials on the field would have determined who recovered the ball.

"If it looked like the ball was loose, play it out," Pennington said. "Don't throw your hands up in the air, especially in the last two stinking minutes of the game."

Coach Tony Sparano said the Dolphins wrote the NFL requesting an explanation, but he expects nothing to change. And he noted many other factors contributed to the defeat.

"The thing I'm most frustrated about is just that we got close against a good football team in that situation and didn't finish," he said.

The Dolphins repeatedly squandered chances to score touchdowns, instead settling five times for field goals. They again were plagued by mistakes in kick coverage and pass coverage. Even after the disputed call, they had a chance to come back but gained just 4 yards in an ugly four-play sequence, losing the ball on downs.

As a result, the Dolphins dropped their fifth game in a row at home, a streak that dates to last season. They're the first team since the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals to start a season 0-3 at home and 3-0 on the road, according to STATS LLC.

The good news: The Dolphins are on the road this Sunday -- at Cincinnati.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.