When Ben Roethlisberger fumbled into the end zone on third down with a little over two minutes left, the game result hung in the balance. Though the play was called a touchdown on the field, the ball was clearly fumbled forward by Roethlisberger before he crossed the goal line. On review, referee Gene Steratore overturned the call on the field regarding the touchdown, and ruled that Ben Roethlisberger did fumble before crossing the line. That’s when it got crazy. The ball bounced into the end zone, and bodies (specifically, three Dolphins covered by Steeler players) fell on the ball in a pile. Here’s the video.
The problem was that referee Gene Steratore did not see indisputable video evidence of who recovered the fumble. I believe that the rule at issue is contained in Rule 15, Section 9 under “Reviewable Plays”. Note 1 says “If the ruling of down by contact or incomplete pass is changed, the ball belongs
to the recovering player at the spot of the recovery of the fumble, and any advance is nullified.” Note 2 states “If the Referee does not have indisputable visual evidence as to which player recovered the loose ball, the ruling on the field will stand.” Now, there was “officially” no ruling on the field in regard to who recovered, since a touchdown was signaled and then overturned.