Tuesday, October 26, 2010
AFC East Week 7 decisive moment
By Tim Graham
For the second straight weekend, the AFC East consisted of nothing but razor-close contests. In any of those games, we can find several instances where a single play would've altered the outcome.
Sunday's decisive moment, however, wasn't a play. It was a ruling.
Referee Gene Steratore and his crew denied the Miami Dolphins a miracle victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Sun Life Stadium because video replay couldn't absolutely confirm what the crowd thought it saw.
We've all watched the replays and summations, but just in case: On third-and-goal from the 2 and with Miami up by two points and 2:37 to play, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger scrambled for the end zone; Miami safety Chris Clemons forced a fumble at the goal line; a touchdown was signaled; a video challenge showed the fumble, but not who recovered it, although Miami linebacker Ikaika Alama-Francis emerged with the ball.
That play isn't the reason why the Dolphins lost. Head coach Tony Sparano lamented a lack of red zone production, his two-minute offense, missed tackles and kickoff coverage.
But Sparano explained why his team has the right to feel robbed.
"From my end I feel like all the proper steps were taken in that scenario at the end of game," Sparano said. "One being, you ask your player to make a play, and our player goes in and puts his facemask right on the football just like you coach it -- legal hit, all the things that we talk about.
"It's not relevant how it got [to the 2-yard line] there or any of those things. That was the play in that situation. ... At the end of the day, you don't control the situation, just the proper steps were took. The [red challenge] flag was thrown. We reviewed the play. We win the challenge. I mean, it was a fumble."
One snap later, Jeff Reed kicked an 18-yard field goal. The Steelers won 23-22.