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Referee from Pittsburgh explains fumble ruling

Referee Gene Steratore spoke to the pool reporter about today's controversial call that was the difference in score between the Dolphins and Pittsburgh. The Steelers won, 23-22 on a field goal made possible when they kept the football following what looked like a fumble in the end zone that was recovered by Miami's Ikaika Alama-Francis.

The refs initially called the play a TD. Then they overturned the TD and said it was a fumble. But they didn't complete the job by giving the ball to Miami.

"Naturally, the ruling on the field was a touchdown by Pittsburgh," Steratore said. "After review it was confirmed in replay the ball did come loose and it was a fumble prior to the ball breaking the goal line. That's where we go into the second aspect of that. In order to overturn this and give another team the football, I have to have clear video evidence of that team recovering the fumble. So when a little short segment of what I said out there. That is what I explained. We did have a fumble, but we did not have video evidence and a confirmation on who recovered the football so we changed an aspect of the play by not awarding Pittsburgh the touchdown. Miami is not charged a time out because we changed an aspect of that play, but we could not award the defense in this situation the football because we don't have video evidence of the defense recovering the ball."

Steratore said officials could not determine who recovered the ball because, "it is a pile of bodies in there and you don't have a clear recovery."

Asked again by he could not determine who recovered the ball, he said, "We confirmed that there was a fumble and we not able to confirm a clear recovery by the defense."

Steratore, by the way, was born in Washington, PA., which is 30 miles outside of Pittsburgh. He still lives and has a business in the region.


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we tried to obtain the services of young second generation mora in the off season.we had Goodell hike a very high mountain with mora and talk to him in private about our long standing club.in the end it was determined mr mora was not NWO material.so beck down the mountain they went.

we are seriously considering a new york vs boston afc championship game this year.profitable venture for us as the slaves of these two cities really dislike each other.

The Official stated that the rules of review is CLEAR video evidence of the fumble recovery. Just because Francis came out of the pile with the ball doesn't mean he may have actually recovered it.

When it goes to the booth for review it goes to TOTAL VIDEO ONLY evidence. A pile of guys going after it on the ground isn't clear video evidence. Give the stripes a break. That's what took so long on the review. They were probably reading the rule book to make sure they got it right. Even though common sense showed otherwise, they did get the ruling right.

Miami lost the game 3-4 times with play calling and not stopping the big plays on defense. LET'S MOVE ON.

Ok then the Refs comments "it is a pile of bodies in there and you don't have a clear recovery." begs this question that he should have to answere. So how do you figure out who has the ball in just about every other fumble situation where "it is a pile of bodies"?? The answer would be you pull the bodies off the pile until you find the one guy who has the football in his hands. Exactly what happened in the end zone yesterday. But in reality it should had never had to come down to a fumble recovery in the end zone. Pitt gifted two fumbles to us at their 22 and 13, all we got were FG's NOT TD's.

First i hope the ref burn in hell,play pennington if we are not throw long,trade Marshall if we keep playing flag ball and screw the season i almost suffer a heart attack watchin thi one, and last fire henning hire someone who can make beter offensive plays, ronnie has to stop dancin and just pound the ball.

WTF - this guy says he didn't have conviencing evidence on the video of who recovered the ball - why did they need to rely on the video - when there's a fumble the ref's unpile everyone and the guy with the ball wins - simple as that - I have never seen a fumble handled in this manner - this guy used the replay an excuse to give his home town team the win. I don't care what anyone says, the ref's have to have some bias in a sport weather it's because a player said something to them or they don't like a player on a team, or even a particular team. The NFL needs to gain congruancy in the league when it comes to throwing the flags.

greg z you make a great point swappping field goals for TD's ain't going to win games. Time to take some chances on 4th down - the Fins have a WR who can go up and get a high ball in the end zone, use him. The OC needs to go in my mind - some of the plays he calls at a given situation are WTF.

The NFL is a joke. The have replay, yet they consistently can't get calls right. why is that? The ball was CLEARLY recovered by Ike #59, there is nothing else you can say....everything else is secondary, I don't care what else did or didn't happen, etc... NFL get the calls right! You have video and you idiots can't SEE what is on the tape. I consider this a win, I won't accept a loss...

This game was lost in the 1st Quarter when the sorry ass conservitive play calling cost us when we got the ball inside the Steeler 20 twice and could only muster 3 sorry as plays and a field goal...The call at the end of the game didnt lose us the game, period...

Sparano and Henning need to go!!!

I have never seen so many stupid people who do not understand how football works. Am I frustrated, YES. However the season is not over, the phins don't suck, Henne is a very good QB. I would like to see Tony become more aggressive, you don't win in the NFL kicking FG's. That being said we have lost to the 3 teams in the AFC with the best records, 2 by only a couple of points. The sky is not falling, this team is steadily improving. They need to keep working on kick coverage, and TACKLING!!! Special note to Coach; a TD is worth 2 FG's!

DC Dolfan! Hey, if and when you read this, PLEASE do me a favor and e-mail me at fforganizer@yahoo.com The stuff I've seen which you have written is very well thought out, respectful, etc etc. Myself and a number of other Dolphins fans are in a keeper Fantasy Football league with an extremely well-known, national sports writer, and a spot just opened up in our league. We are looking for a guy who is a Fin fan among other things, and you seem to fit the bill. Would you mind dropping me a line? Thanks!

i am a Jet fan and I can say that the Dolphins were robbed a win. Big Ben fumbled and a Dolphin player came out of the pile with the ball. This went to booth review and they could not get this right. Bottom line what happened Big Ben fumbles the ball before the endzone. Ball crosses endzone without noboday possessing it. Ball Recovered by Miami Players. Miami player comes out of the pile with the ball. Should have been Miami ball at the 20 yard line. Touchback.

The NFL will never admit the mistake. Rules state in a fumble you unpile and see you got the ball. If you look at the film, one ref was doing exactly that as it happened. So who made him stop?? The Pitt ref? As far as clear evidence, you would have had it when you unpiled. Plus, only dolphins were on and around the ball, with steelers on top of us. How would they have gotten it when three dolphins were the only ones on the ground around the ball? So, when we come out of the pile with the ball, there seems to be ton of evidence quite visible. At the very least, they have to admit they screwed up by not seeing who recovered the fumble like they do hundreds of times all year by unpiling it. The whistle did not blow until after the recovery as seen on film when two then three refs come up and start blowing the whistle. So, there is no excuse. Why didn't the ref continue unpling to see who recovered and why do they not admit they blew the call?

Either way, after fumbling into the endzone, "everyone jumping on a pile so you can't see who recovered, so you can get the ball back no matter what, so you get another chance to score after you fumble" does not seem to be a good NFL rule.

Yep. Can't beat the opposing team and the officiating at the same time. Okay, they called it a touch down. Then the ball comes out so it becomes a possible fumble.

With these 2 events the officiating staff should have been prepared from the onset to: First, determine if the ball carrier crossed the plane of the goal line before the fumble occurred, indicating a touchdown. Then secondly, when it became obvious it was a fumble, who recovered the football. They failed on the second issue.

Initially calling it a touchdown might have influenced how the players reacted to the fumble. Still, two Miami players reacted immediately and pounced on the ball first, followed by a Pittsburgh player. The two Dolphin players were clearly on the ground with the ball. The Steeler was trying to wedge himself between them to grab the ball.

I thought the replay booth was suppose to support or overturn a ruling on the field? Not completely disregard the perceptions of the officials in part or entirely, by requiring video evidence of each and every aspect of the play under review. And when has conclusive video evidence ever been able to determine who has the ball in a pile on?
That is not feasible. Even with todays high tech capabilities and viewing angles. Sometimes you have to use some common sense.

Sure, it's possible that in a pile with several players fighting for the ball, the player that actually may have had possession of the ball when the whistle is blown, or the play is considered dead, may not be the one that comes out of the pile with it. Sometimes the tide goes to the stronger player.

But officials should have been able in this case to tell who had it by the struggle for the ball as they sifted through the players. Especially when the pile on the ball only involved a few players and the Miami player that initially came in contact with the fumble did come up with the ball.

Now, had they found two players from opposing teams clutching the ball at the same time they should give it back to the team that had the ball before the fumble. (Much like when the ball is fumbled out of bounds).

It's doubtful they will ever find a way to mount cameras at ground level, on the players, or in the blasted football itself to provide conclusive video evidence of who actually recovers the ball.

That is a cop out! An excuse to say, we are afraid to make a decision so we'll just give the ball back to the team we knew had it originally, despite evidence to the contrary or the consequences of that decision.

So much with possession being nine tenths of the law. Somebody was possessed for making that bonehead call to begin with.

This is definitely a situation that needs to be reviewed and addressed in the off season.

Gee Armando? Passionate, are we? At least we are in complete agreement for a change.


On PTI.....Tony Kornhieser

"on a scale of 1-100 how bad the Dolphins get screwed....A 200"

this is ridiculous....even in B'more they think its effed up.

At least they dropped the dumb ass Wildcat--bad play calling at the wrong times and BM neglected for the most part-again.
Hometown refs suc--fine him

the only reason the steelers won the game is Big Ben f#@$ed the ref in the bathroom before the game.

For everyone chiding the Dolphins for not scoring TDs instead of FGs, and saying that is the true reason they lost - it's a BS argument.

There's ALWAYS things that any team could have done better in EVERY game - even if they win it.

Fact is, the Dolphins' D made a HUGE play at the end, causing that fumble, and that's what wins games. And that Linesman f**ked it up. Simply put, he had absolutely NO evidence on the field from which to call a TD - NONE.

The Defense made a play and the Dolphins got screwed (period)

miami is not a disiplined team. some experts say they are a well coached team, but i don't see it. they give up way to many big plays, their special teams sucks, they just are a mediocre team, thats it. cincy is due for a breakout game and i believe it will be at the expense of the dolphins on sunday.

the umpire says that it is hard to tell who has possesion of the ball in a pile. That call is made over and over every game. This was not the first time a pile of players jumped at a loose ball. The referee and the guys in the booth made a bad decision and should own up. Fans are not believing this. So next time there is a fumble, remember this statement.

WE can blame the ref all we want, but the bottom line is that Henning and Sparano put us in that position. For the first time, I'm extremely disappointed with these 2 bc they were very conservative against the best defense in the league perhaps the best team. Dude, if you know the opponent is much better then you go with trick plays, and be creative. YOU DON'T CALL THE SAME BORING PLAYS EXPECTING FOR YOUR OFFENSE TO BEAT THEIR DEFENSE.. when you get 2 TO right away, you take advantage and play like you've nothing to lose, because realistically speaking you don't bc you just recovered the d@mned football - twice!... Sparano, when you're playing at home and all you need is an inch; you GO for it.. if you don't advance an inch, then you deserve to be playing football. YOU lost that game towards the end bc instead of going to the playmakers you decided to plug-in L Polite, one of our slowest players. YOU LOST THE GAME, AND YOU DID NOT SCORE WHEN YOU HAD THE CHANCE... GO FINS!!!!

Gene if from PA huh? And he's probably a Steeler fan too... The NFL should ask each referee, which i know all are Football fans, which teams they root for and keep them away from those games and their division rival games so they are not bias on the game. They should've had a Niner fan refereeing that game and any body who does not root for any team in the AFC east or AFC north. I was wondering why he was so quick to make all of his rulings via his mic. We were robbed at the end, but then again, we should've had a 10-0 lead at least or even a 14-0 lead, not 6-0. I knew those field goals were going to hurt us in the end. We got Robbed on the call but I agree with Coach. That was not in our control. We had control to score 7's not 3's in the first quarter. And all you Henne haters out there can go suck an egg. He's better than Culpepper, Feely, and any other QB we had since Dan the man and Bob Griese.


I agree with all the Henning bashing tho, and 50/50 on Sparano as coach. But if you throw Bill Cowher as our Head Coach next year, I wouldn't be opposed to that. Pay him whatever and get him out of the studio and back on the sideline with the Dolphins and move Sparano back in coaching the O-line.


oh, get over it ppl!!! Miami Mud-Fish suck! you lost, you lost. deal!!! incidentally I WAS RAISED IN MIAMI FL and I still think M M-F can't play ball!

ESPN listed the top 5 teams in the NFL this morning ans the Steelers were #3. Since we went toe to toe with them...and did win the game...(negating the incompetent referees) Id say were a decent team. To all you fins haters....don't you have anything else to do but badmouth Miami? If ypu hate them sp much why are you a subscriber to this page?

wow imagin that! the ref lives in pittsburg! i can think of 100 other fumbles where they couldnt tell who got the ball, but then the player that comes out of the pile with it gets the ball! it was BS!!

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