Posted: 8:41 am Monday, October 25th, 2010

More visual proof that Dolphins LB Ikaika Alama-Francis recovered Ben Roethlisberger’s fumble 

By Post Staff

Dolphins fans wake up today with the distinct pain of being punched in the gut after a potential game-clinching end zone fumble recovery by Ikaika Alama-Francis was wiped out yesterday by referee Gene Steratore in their 23-22 loss to Pittsburgh.

Several Dolphins players were obviously upset yesterday that Steratore ruled that he “did not have video evidence and a confirmation on who recovered the football,” and subsequently gave the Steelers the ball back at the half yard line, allowing them to kick the game-winning field goal on the next play.

“They took that game from us,” linebacker Karlos Dansby said. “Give me an explanation why we don’t got the ball right now on the 20 yard line.”

Blaming the refs is usually the easy way out, but Dansby may have a point. To paraphrase the late great George Michael, let’s go to the still photos.

Here’s a “before” photo from the AP, showing Alama-Francis pouncing on the football and being in the best position to haul it in.

Ike Alama-Francis (59) appears to corral the ball first. (AP)

Ike Alama-Francis (59) appears to corral the ball first. (AP)

Dansby claimed after the game that “(the ref) took the ball from Ike. They took the ball from him.”

Here’s our proof — an “after” shot of Alama-Francis standing up with the football, courtesy of the NFL Network’s highlights show:

Alama-Francis clearly comes up with the football / screen shot courtesy NFL Network

Alama-Francis clearly comes up with the football / screen shot courtesy NFL Network

Technically, we don’t have 100 percent proof that Alama-Francis recovered the fumble underneath the pile. But we’ll let Prof. Channing Crowder enlighten us with a bit of logic.

“He jumped on it first and he got up with it,” Crowder said. “I don’t think he jumped on it and 16 people snatched it from him and it came back around to him like a hot potato. He jumped on the ball and he got up with the ball. I don’t know any other evidence.”

Furthermore, Steratore said in his post-game interview that he couldn’t determine who recovered the ball because “it was a pile of bodies in there and you don’t have a clear recovery.”

(Quick thought — aren’t most fumble recoveries a “pile of bodies” that need sorting out?)

And to Steratore’s point, let’s check out this still photo from an NFL.com video, submitted by a reader:

Two officials try to sort out the pile / screen shot courtesy of NFL.com

Two officials try to sort out the pile / screen shot courtesy of NFL.com

What do we see? Two officials doing their job — sorting out the pile and trying to figure out who fumbled the football.

We still have some unanswered questions that were not asked yesterday by the pool reporter: Did Steratore consult the other officials before making his final ruling? If not, why did Steratore and the officials stop following the play and not try to figure out who came out with the football, even if they signaled touchdown?

Instead, they took the easy way out, Greg Stoda writes today.

An NFL spokesman said “we have nothing to add” when I asked if the league will review the way Steratore and his staff handled the call, but I suspect this issue won’t die slowly this week.

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