Referee Gene Steratore Explains Ruling in Dolphins-Steelers Game
MIAMI -- Confused about the controversial official's ruling in the Pittsburgh-Miami game?
Well, this ought to clear things up.
Here's head referee Gene Steratore's explanation, as given to Miami Herald pool reporter Jeff Darlington, following the Ben Roethlisberger goal-line fumble in the final minutes of Pittsburgh's 23-22 victory over the Dolphins at Sun Light Stadium.
Replays clearly showed Roethlisberger lost the ball when hit before crossing the goal line, but the same replays could not determine who took possession in the end zone, even though Dolphins linebacker Ikiaika Alama-Francis popped out of the scrum with the ball.
On the lengthy explanation on the field: "Naturally the ruling on the field was a touchdown by Pittsburgh. After review it was confirmed in replay that 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 the team recovering the fumble. ... 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."
On why it was not determined who recovered the fumble: "It is a pile of bodies in there and you don't have a clear recovery."
On whether or not it is protocol to determine who recovered the fumble regardless of the whistle: "Any time that you have a fumble or if would be ruled a touchdown or down by contact or situation where we have ruled a play ended and a team challenges that in fact it was a fumble. Both aspects of that ruling have to be video confirmed in order for us to turn the ball over a) that it was a fumble before down by contact or touchdown in this case and b) a clear recovery by the defense in order to award them the football."
On if there was a reason to determine who recovered the fumble in live action as opposed to during the review: "In live action, the ruling was touchdown."
On why it was not determined who recovered the fumble at the time of the play: "Because the ruling was a touchdown."
On if it is not until that it is determined that it is not a touchdown you can go forward with the process of determining who recovers a fumble: "When you have a challenge, naturally you are challenging the ruling on the field which was a touchdown so when we go into replay, we find out in fact that it was in fact a fumble prior to the ball breaking the plane, but we have to continue with that aspect and find a clear recovery by the defense in order to reward them the ball."
On if he could not determine who recovered the ball: "We confirmed that there was a fumble and were not able to confirm a clear recovery by the defense."