What unfolded was nothing less than surreal on Sunday at Pro Player Stadium, as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins waged battle. Big Ben passed for two scores, but his fumble at the goal-line late in the 4th quarter with his team down by two, was only just the tip of the iceberg to what followed. It’s the ‘undetermined’ recovery as ruled by NFL officials that should have the Dolphins in a rage.
Where do we start? The fumble is a good jumping point. After the linesman signaled touchdown, the ball was clearly loose as players from both teams began to form a pile. Once Dolphins coach Tony Sporano threw his challenge flag after seeing on replay that Roethlisberger lost the football, the only question was where did he lose the ball & who recovered it?
Surely, NFL officials in charge of matters this important would be ready to present the results that would have an impact on the final ruling?
Yeah, that’s not what I expected from them either.
How can you not determine who came up with that football? Your trying to tell me that none of those officials saw a player with a ball at the end? Really? Granted, the whistle blew for what was supposed to be a touchdown, but somebody had to come up with the ball.
The end result of the play was simply absurd and the league should be embarrassed. I’ve watched football for thirty years and have never seen a call like that before. Have you? In any NFL game before today?
If you listen closely, you can almost hear laughter from Vegas.
From what I saw of Sporano’s post-game remarks, he was rather calm regarding the explanation of what happened given to him by the referee on the field. In the end, his club got the ball back with just over two minutes remaining and could not advance against the Steelers defense.
So how did we get to that point? Much of that story also revolves around Roethlisberger. His stat line showed 19 complete on 27 attempts for 302 yards and a pair of TD passes, his first to Heinz Ward. For Ward, it was another huge day as he caught seven passes for 131 yards. It marked the 27th time in his soon to be hall-of-fame career that he eclipsed the 100-yard mark in a game.
However Roethlisberger did fumble three times, with his 1st leading to a Dolphins field goal and a 6-0 lead. Prior to that, rookie Emmanuel Sanders coughed up the opening kickoff, allowing Miami to turn that into an early 3-0 lead.
After the Steelers next drive ended in a punt, Roethlisberger lead three scoring marches that netted a 17-16 halftime lead. Ben’s 2nd TD pass was another deep ball to Mike Wallace that covered 53 yards, the only play of the drive.
The Steelers added to their lead by taking the opening drive of the 2nd half down field, collecting a Jeff Reed 39-yard field goal in the process to lead 20-16.
The Dolphins would go ahead with a pair field goals. The 2nd put them up 22-20 with just over 5 minutes left. It also opened up a door for redemption. Enter Emmanuel Sanders.
The rookie who began the game with a gaffe, galloped 48 yards into Dolphins territory with the ensuing kickoff. Seven plays later, Ben had his moment again in the spotlight.
It’s been well noted that the official on the field who made the final call on the play, Gene Steratore, is from Washington, Pa. One can only imagine that storyline is going to get plenty of attention from local and national media in the next few days.
I’m not implying that Steratore showed any bias. I can’t prove he did. I just want to know how he and his crew could not come up with an outcome to the ball at the end of the play?
So after all that, the Steelers are now 5-1 as they head into a spooky showdown on the road next Sunday night against the defending World Champion New Orleans Saints. They spent the day being dismantled at home by Cleveland 30-17 and should be in a foul mood in the Sunday Night National telecast.
If next weeks affair has a similar story line, you might consider calling it Scream 2.