Steelers almost fumble game away, hold on for win over Dolphins

Posted Oct. 24, 2010 @ 4:50 p.m.
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By Steven Wine, AP Sports Writer

MIAMI (AP) — The officials eventually got it right that Ben Roethlisberger fumbled at the goal line. The Dolphins were still left feeling wronged.

An officiating mistake negated Roethlisberger's late fumble, and the Pittsburgh Steelers kicked the game-winning field goal on the next play Sunday. Jeff Reed made an 18-yarder with 2:30 left, allowing the Steelers to escape with a 23-22 win.

One play earlier, with Pittsburgh trailing 22-20 and facing third-and-goal at the 2, Roethlisberger fumbled as he dived across the goal line on a quarterback draw. The play was ruled a touchdown as both teams scrambled for the loose ball in the end zone.

After a replay review, referee Gene Steratore announced that Roethlisberger fumbled before scoring. But Steratore said his crew had no clear evidence as to which team recovered the ball, and the Steelers were awarded possession at the half-yard line, allowing Reed to kick the winner.

The Dolphins then lost the ball on downs, gaining only 4 yards in four plays.

AFC North leader Pittsburgh improved to 5-1 and remained unbeaten on the road. Miami fell to 3-3, with all the defeats at home and all the wins on the road.

The Steelers lost three starters with injuries: linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring), defensive end Aaron Smith (left arm) and tackle Flozell Adams (left ankle). Miami's point total was the highest against Pittsburgh this year.

The game was the first for the league's top-scoring defense since the NFL crackdown on illegal hits, a move precipitated in part by a helmet hit by Pittsburgh's James Harrison, who drew a $75,000 fine.

Maybe that robbed the Steelers of a little zeal. Chad Henne threw for 257 yards, and the Dolphins took the 22-20 lead when Dan Carpenter kicked his fourth field goal to cap a 52-yard drive with 5:17 left.

Emmanuel Sanders returned the kickoff 48 yards against the Dolphins' shaky kick-coverage unit, and when Mewelde Moore turned a short pass into a 29-yard gain, the Steelers appeared on the verge of victory.

On third-and-goal, Roethlisberger took two steps back, then ran up the middle and dived for the end zone. Chris Clemons hit him in the back to jar the ball loose, and confusion ensued.

''After the review, it has been determined that prior to the ball crossing the goal line, the runner did lose possession of the ball,'' Steratore finally told the crowd. ''We do not have clear evidence of the team recovering the ball. Therefore Pittsburgh will have the ball, fourth-and-goal at the half-yard line.''

The crowd booed as Reed trotted onto the field to kick the winner.

Roethlisberger, playing his second game since returning from his suspension, went 19 for 27 for 302 yards and two scores.

Hines Ward caught a 21-yard touchdown pass and had a 43-yard reception to set up a field goal. Mike Wallace ran past Jason Allen on a fly pattern and caught Roethlisberger's perfect throw in stride just before crossing the goal line for a 53-yard score.

After one quarter, the Dolphins led 6-0 thanks to two takeaways despite being outgained 115-7. They recovered fumbles at the Pittsburgh 22 and 13 in the first 2 minutes but settled for a field goal each time.

Game stats

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