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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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Ronnie Brown has been doing this since he first arrived in Miami. He's all pro if he sees a big hole rightaway. But if he doesnt he thinks he's Barry Sanders.

When there isnt a big hole rightaway we need him to be Larry Czonka not Barry Sanders. He has zero QUICKNESS compared to Sanders. He still hasnt learned yet.

Has to be Browns last year here. Need a feature back with some explosion. Keeping Ricky, Cobbs, and Hilliard as backups.

Dying- I know that your looking for a speed guy, and I respect your opinion. But I disagree that having a speedster would be the answer to our offensive woes. Would it help? Of course. But look at teams at the temas ahead of us. Not all of them have a fast burner on the outside to compliment their #1
I would argue having an athletic tight end that could be a redzone threat would improve our chances. In the redzone is where we have stalled, and where we need improving. Having someone with the ability to strech the field will not help us down there. The deep threat is great, but realistically, how many times a game will that play be there, as opposed to the amount of times teams are in the redzone. Just my thought.

With our o-line I believe we need a super quick back. Not neccessarily superfast, but he has to be super quick. Our o-line doesnt hold its blocks very long usually. We need a guy that can explode to the line of scrimmage.

Ricky shows flashes but Ronnie Brown doesnt have it all. Brown has to have a 6 lane highway to be fully effective.


Patriots would now have 2 loses within the division without Randy Moss in the Jets game.
Chargers didnt have Vjax this year and look at thier record. Plus they lost today against the Pats.

Look back at the days of Duper and Clayton. Defenses regularly gave Duper a 10yd cushion because of the way he could blow by db's.

Marino could throw to Duper almost at will for at least 8-10yd completions because of this cushion. Not only does this increase the deep threat it almost gives you 8-10yd completions at will.

We had one of the best wr combos to ever play the game for nearly 10yrs. Im shock you guys dont remember specifics of what was happening when we had this. I do, thats why I know exactly what the present offense is missing.

No one's going to give Hartline a cushion. He has to fight for separation every pass play. Duper didnt because they had to respect his deep speed and pass catching ability unlike Ted Ginn.

Last comment before bed and I'm gonna defend BROWN

It's called PATIENCE. Brown is waiting for holes to open. The problem is they rarely do. He's always ran that way, and his career avg is 4.4 YPC? That's nothing to scoff at.

The running game as a whole has been a disappointment all year. I wouldn't necassarily point the figure directly at Brown.

i agree, I think we need a young explosive runner, that teams have to fear. Someone who can hurt you quickly if given room.

Marc, true his career ypc average is good and that patience works against defences that arn't that good but when you face defences like the Steelers you have to hit the hole quick and get what you can get. (imo)
I think what Ricky was able to do as opposed to Brown in this game shows that.


Not arguing Brown's effectiveness. He just needs to slam it in there for what he can get at times instead of dancing behind the line.

Im from the old school era. When Czonk didnt see a hole he slammed it in there for what he could get. He didnt try and be the type of back that he really wasnt.

Brown is a power back. Not 200lb rb with super quickness. We drafted him as a powerbach and thats what we need him to be hole or not.

not blaming this or any game on Brown, its just a position that i think needs to be upgraded for us to make the next leap.


The only place those small quick backs hurt you is on blitz pickups. Linebackers run over them like thier not even there.

DB, that is true but i think at first we could use Ricky or Cobbs on third down until that part of tge players game matures.


IMO, we immediately make the next leap on offense with a speed demon opposite Marshall that can catch. Because if we can began to pile on the points we began to break most defenses spirit.

A sure sign your breaking the defense's spirit usually begans to show up first in thier run defense.

Ive been paying careful attentuion to Cobbs since he first arrived in the Cam era, I think it was. The kid has very good speed but he really doesnt have explosive quickness to the line. Its adequate but not explosive.

Having the threat of blowing the top off the defense would loosen things up more. A replacement for Hartline?

Db. I get where your coming from. I just don't think that solves our redzone problems. Curious. Marlon Moore is a fast guy, I'm not being a d!cK but why hasn't he seen the field if adding a speed guy is the answer. If it's just a question of route running, or ability to seperate. Why the hell was he kept on the roster to be left inactive every week if he can't run a go route? If he is so bad that he can't beat a nickel corner or get past a FS why is he here, shouldn't he be that speed guy?

Ted Ginn is a perfect example of a guy with world class speed and zero quickness. It takes a little time and space to get it rolling. Once he does its no catching.

Thats why most of the time hhe was totally ineffective on kickoffs. But if he got enough time to get the straitline speed rolling there was no catching. His close quarter quickness was practically nonexistent.

Been wondering the same about Moore. Could be the same problems Turner was having getting consistently off the line.

Its not just enough to have blazing speed for an nfl wr. He he needs to be physical enough to beat jams or quick enough to evade them most of the time.

Speed is nothing if you cant use it.

This one is going to leave a bitter taste. A tough loss. Good night everyone

Bess is probably as good of an example as there is of a wr quick enough to beat jams. He just doesnt have the blazing speed to be a consistent deep threat.

I think our redzone problems have to do with play calling. Marshall is the obvious threat in the redzone he must either be used to make defenses pay for over compensating or clearing an area out for someone else.

DB, I love the way Bess plays, to me he has the most heart amd competiveness of all the recievers.

This loss doesnt leave as bitter of a taste in my mouth as most fans because I know we're at least 1 player away on both offense and defense to seriously challenge for championships. This is why we are in nailbiters every week and blow no one away. Plus the injuries are of no help.

If we were as complete as we could get and this happened I would be ready to blow the top of my dome off. I fully expect everything I see. Every week we're one bad call or one blown play away from defeat this is of no surprise.

What we really need to examine is why are we always in this position?


Playcalling was a part of it with the wildcat. The cat has been scrap becuase they now realize the present interior line doesnt block for it nearly as well as Smiley, Grove, and Thomas did.

But the present interior linemen are much better pass protectors.

We are bogging down because:

A. We dont have a speed catching demon that demands a cushion.

B. Hene cant throw the fade to Marshall.

If Henne could throw the fade Marshall would be unstoppable in the endzone. Also from about the 35yd line on in teams are rolling thier safeties over the top of Marshall and giving the nickel corner help on Bess, and jamming Hartline up at the line.

By the time guys are coming open Henne has nearly run out of time to throw. That's why we are bogging down, the coverage schemmes and running out of operable real estate.

If we had a speed demon catching threat the defense has to give that cushion and that play would be open for Henne nearly everytime he dropped back. Hartline doesnt demand that.

Im really not dissing Hartline he just doesnt have the speed to make defenses really respect him.

One of the greatest hof recievers ever wasnt a speed demon.

Steve Largent was so crafty he knew how to set db's up and lull them to sleep. Maybe in time Hartline can learn this craft but right now he doesnt have it.

DyingBreed, you're on to something. This is the fifth time the Dolphins have won or lost by the slimmest of margins and down to the wire. I believe in this team and I like their fighting spirit. But I wish there was something they would improve upon: close out the game better in 4th quarter. We're good at keeping ourselves in the game, but we need that knockout punch in the 4th to seal the victory - rather than let an imbecile ref or OT to decide our fate. But I've been debating (along with several posters) what is the most glaring problem: are we a few players short or is it the coaching staff? Probably both. I wish they would practice a lot of clutch situations (i.e. 3rd and 4th downs, red zones, and 2 minute drills) since close games are a continuing trend for us this season.

Also, I dont think they trust Henne enough to call audibles. Have you guys noticed the timeouts we burn on offense?

I believe this happens when Henne has a play he isnt comfortable with running against a certain defensive set he sees. Since he isnt authorized to call an audible he has to burn a timeout.

This always bites us in the bud at the end of games because we arent yet a complete offense that can consistently gain comfortable leads.


Mark my words. Even against weaker opponents games every game this season will still be close.

We need a deep pass catching threat that demands a cushion. Hartline has to fight to get open every pass play. He doesnt have consistent separating speed.

Plus, from about 15yds in Henne has to develop the endzone fade with Marshall. Marshall would be nearly unstoppable on an endzone fade with his size.

Until these two things happen we will be in nailbiters until the sky starts falling. Mark my words.


Also, we can only win so many games by fighting spirit alone. We also need the right pieces. I believe we're only a deep pass catching wr and and Henne learning to throw the fade to Marshall from the 15yd line in to be a championship calibre offense.

Then we can win close games against great teams and blow away the weaklings.

We could also pobably easily have a top 5 defense if they didnt always have to have the added pressure of consistently playing with slim leads. Just the consistent stress fo that alone could have your defense fall apart near seasons end.

Wouldnt be surprised at all if the defense begans to turn into a bowl of jello from about the 12th game on in if this present trend continues.

Our defense never gets a break whether we are playing the nfl champs or nfl chumps. I expect to see them began really breaking down beginning around game 12 if this trend continues.

I wish they would use the no huddle offense in the 4th qtr,especially at home when the D is already melting from the heat.That would suck the life out of them and score us more points.

You know the old saying,"pressure eventually bust a pipe!"


The problem with the hurry up is it usually involves operating out of the shotgun. Henne admittedly says he not comfortable operating out of the gun.

The hurry up offense is more effective operating out of the shotgun. Great idea, wrong qb.

It sucks Henne isnt comfortable with the shotgun. It gives the qb more time to see his pass routes develop. Thats what the shotgun is all about. Its idiotic Henne says he isnt comfortable with it.

Another thing not having quickstrike ability does is increases the likelihood of your offensive players gaining injury. They spend more time on the field producing less points.

If we dont get a legitimate pass catching demon either through free agency, trade, or draft this offseason. I'll be at the head of the line forming a get rid of Jeff Ireland club.

I refuse to go through another season of 16 game nailbiters!!!

How many seasons has it been since we had a 14pt lead going into the 4th qtr no matter who we played?

I dont wanna hear we should have kept Ginn because his hands werent nearly consistent enough to solve the problem.

Now that Ive exorcised my Dolphins demons Im now going to bed.

Boy you Fin fans are the biggest crybabies I have ever seen. That play didn't lose the game for you. You couldn't cover our receivers. You were lucky we tried to run too much as your run defense was great. Do you really think the ref from Pittsburgh {which is the way its spelled} really was bias (just an excuse). Dont compare us to the NE Pats and Brady for getting calls. They screwed us several times with the illegal spying or we might have 7 or 8 SB titles. Anyway your homefield advantage is tough on visitors with the heat and humidity. Hope you all have to come to Pitt in January for the playoffs.


im sick

ps................ ted ginn was garbage besides kick returns we miss him there if u guyz really really think about it he made us lose more games then we won he sucked when we had him all i used to see u guyz do is complant on him an for us to get rid of him so my point is yea we can defintly ise a speedy deap threat to open the field but ginn sucked so stop saying we needid him

Rant and rave all you want. The team leaves too many points on the field in every game. Yestetday they left at least 8 points in the forst quarter alone. play calling hamstrings the offense. They are sullosed to be phusical but it seems that they try to be too slick at times and go away from what is working for them. Its almost like Sparano and Henning cant stand the idea of a big lead.

As I wake this monday morning i hope to see that Henning was Fired...
As Much as i believe we did get screw on the bigben fumble, we still had 2 plus minutes to come back! Henning Must Be Fired!
we have the players to br Great but our OC disagrees. Our Defense was Awsome!
Henning makes me sick. Fire that Coward!!!

Oh, Did i Forget to say
F-I-R-E. H-E-N-N-I-N-G!!!!!! N-O-W!!!!!!

i never see any team handle pitt the way we did on sunday.we played well and the game was stolen from us .still it was a great game for the world to see the young dolphins.as for all posters who say we are short 1 0r 2 player or brown need to find a hole.please go find a hole yourself .


Please let our readers know about both refs involved being from the Pittsburgh area (see reference below). The NFL should consider for the future NOT assigning life long fans to cover their own teams.

-Eric, North Palm Beach

Steelers nip Dolphins thanks to bizarre ruling on strange fourth-quarter play
Monday, October 25, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Not a bad idea by Tomlin to leave quickly after referee Gene Steratore Jr., a Uniontown native who lives in Washington, Pa., ruled in the Steelers' favor on an unusual play near the end of the game.

Players from both teams claimed they had recovered the football in the end zone, but because a touchdown was called -- by Pittsburgh native Jerry Bergman -- no one bothered to determine who had possession.


i said it once ill say it again Henne is making great progress and really did a good job looking off defenders and stepping up in the pocket against maybe the best team sun.

however if we have a lockout next year i fear he could take a step back. missing real playing time could prove to be detrimental and no one has the patience to go backwards when we are so close.

it seems ronnie is trying to hard to prove something in his contract year instead of going up field. Ricky has made Browm look like the older of the two backs.

one more thing. i was disappointed when we didnt get rid of henning this offseason but thought well maybe another year with the same personnel with upgrades will do the trick.

well i was right hennimg! is too stubborn and stuck in his old ways to realize how much the game has changed.

i feared yesterday that the game was over when we played for the safe FG raking the ball out of Hennes hands.

henning must go, no doubt

I always thought the referees were supposed to let a play like that go on. I've seen that happen with most fumbles. It should have not been called a touchdown in the first place. I know the league loves the Rooneys, but this was a bit egregious.

when Alma-francis looked like he was gonna recove the ball and then stands up with the ball in his hands, that looks like Miami ball to me!! idk. lets just play dumb too!!!!!

Referee Gene Steratore, thanks for waking me up! We're in a Depression in America and NFL Football is about the only ticket to entertain u.s. and that's corrupt too! You won't have me to entertain anymore and if America has any pride left; they'll do the same! Wake up America!

Why didn't the officials have someone or people assigned to determine who had the ball after the fumble, just in case? Shouldn't the refs always mae a decision on fumble possession just in case? Dd they just stop paying attention when the ball came loose? How to the refs explain the video evidence that shows a Dolphin falling directly on top of the ball, and that same Dolphin, Ikaika Alama-Francis, coming out of the pile with the ball in his hand? How is that not compelling evidence of possession? Alama-Francis was interviewed after the game by Channel 4. While in the scrum, he said he heard someone say, "White ball!" Who else would say that other than a ref (not the Dolphins and certainly not the Steelers!)?

It is a valid point someone made that Fans might be turned off by the quality of the viewing at Sun Life stadium. I was there(once) and from where I was sitting the players appeared the size of microbes.

Henne's ratings as QB........... 86.9

THE ONLY QB higher than him are...
Tom Brady....94
matt ryan ....88

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