Lolley: Play should continue after whistle

Here are Dale Lolley's notes from the Steelers-Dolphins game in Miami:

MIAMI – OK, I know what the officials called on the field during Sunday's game at Sunlife Stadium was correct and the letter of the law.

But that doesn't exactly make the letter of the law correct.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were fortunate to come away with a 23-22 victory over the Miami Dolphins because of referee Gene Steratore's ruling that he could not determine who had recovered Ben Roethlisberger's fumble in the end zone with just over two minutes remaining.

But think about it this way: If that play had occurred at the 20 yard line instead of the goal line, would the officials have taken the time to figure out who had possession of the football at the bottom of that scrum?

You can bet they would have.

Since, however, they had ruled that Roethlisberger had scored, they did not.

And while you can be happy that the Steelers came out on the right of this one, such a ruling could just as easily go against them the next time it happens - if it ever does again.

The fact that Steratore is from Washington, Pa., and head linesman Jerry Bergman, who ruled that Roethlisberger had scored, lives in Pittsburgh, won't do much to quiet the people who think that the NFL cheats for the Steelers.

In fact, Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder said as much following the game.

"The refs called a wonderful game — for the Steelers," Crowder said.

But really, in that situation, the officials did everything right. It's the rule that the play is dead that needs to be changed.

© I spoke to Aaron Smith following the game and while he's somewhat upbeat, he won't know until Monday how severe his triceps injury is.

If it's completely torn, that would be a shame because Smith has been playing well and is the heart and soul of this team.

It could also be the third time in the past four seasons that Smith has suffered some sort of arm/shoulder injury. And now that he's in his mid-30s, it might be something that forces the veteran warrior to consider retirement.

© The Steelers did an outstanding job blanketing Miami receiver Brandon Marshall, limiting him to five catches for 57 yards.

Dick LeBeau did a nice job of mixing his coverages and blitzes to keep Dolphins QB Chad Henne from getting to comfortable and the Steelers bracketed Marshall, keeping him in check.

© Hines Ward should be slowing down and shouldn't still be as big of a factor in games as he is. Somebody just forgot to tell Ward that.

His effort on his TD catch was great, ducking under Benny Sapp and juking Chris Clemons.

But I was more impressed with a catch he made in the third quarter when we went up over 6-3 cornerback Sean Smith, whose head was turned, and pulled the ball up over Smith's helmet for a 26-yard gain.

Ward continues to make big plays for this team at opportune times.

© If you'd have put me in the same situation as Mike Tomlin Sunday after Roethlisberger's fumble - I'd have gone for a touchdown to go ahead by five points instead of one.

Look at it this way, you have ball at the one. If you can't get in there, Miami takes over at its own 1 and the Steelers still had three timeouts and the two-minute warning to stop the clock.

We've saw what can happen in that circumstance a couple of weeks ago when Baltimore had the Steelers in a similar spot.

Pittsburgh was forced to punt and the Ravens went in for the game-winning score.

Things turned out OK for Tomlin since the Steelers won, but I don't know that I would have made the same decision knowing that I was without two of my better pass rushers in Smith and LaMarr Woodley.

© By the same token, Tomlin admitted that he messed up at the end of the first half by not at least allowing Jeff Reed to attempt a long field goal instead of allowing the clock to run out.

The wind was blowing very strongly in that direction and Reed may have been able to sneak one in from 55 or so yards.

The play-calling on that series, though, left something to be desired.

You've got the ball at the Miami 34 with 1:12 remaining and call timeout following a 6-yard gain. You come out of the timeout and attempt to run a reverse that gets blown up for an 8-yard loss and then Roethlisberger gets sacked for a 3-yard loss.

The Steelers need to dump the reverse from their playbook. Mike Wallace, for all of his speed, doesn't run it well, anyway.

© Emmanuel Sanders had to be feeling pretty small after his fumble on the opening kickoff, but the rookie redeemed himself with another big third-down catch and a couple of big kickoff returns that set up scores.

I'm not quite sure, however, why he's not getting a chance to return punts. Antwaan Randle El is giving the Steelers nothing in that facet of the game and has looked shaky catching the ball.

There's no reason not to at least give Sanders a shot. He can't do much worse than Randle El – provided he hangs onto the ball.

(Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.)

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