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On inconclusive review, Steelers beat Miami 23-22

MIAMI (AP) -- Everyone but the officials seemed to have an opinion regarding who recovered Ben Roethlisberger 's fumble in the end zone.

Was it the Steelers or the Dolphins?

"I was holding onto it, squeezing it as tight as I could," Roethlisberger said.

"I came up with it," Miami linebacker Ikaika Alama-Francis said.

"Me and Jonathan Scott were at the bottom of the pile," Steelers guard Doug Legursky said. "We felt like we had the ball."

We'll never know. The officials were unable to render a decision, even after a video review, so the Steelers kept the ball and kicked a field goal on the next play to beat Miami 23-22.

Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin was still shaking his head about the narrow escape when he met with reporters.

"Make it quick," he said. "We've got the buses warming up."

With the Steelers 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 ball.

After a review, referee Gene Steratore announced Roethlisberger fumbled before scoring. But Steratore said replays were inconclusive on which team recovered, and the Steelers were awarded possession at the half-yard line, allowing Jeff Reed to kick an 18-yard field goal with 2:26 left.

"I have to have clear video evidence of the team recovering the fumble," Steratore said after the game. "It is a pile of bodies in there, and you don't have a clear recovery."

Channing Crowder was one of several Dolphins who argued Alama-Francis recovered.

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

AFC North leader Pittsburgh improved to 5-1 and remained unbeaten on the road. The Steelers won despite losing three starters with injuries: linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring), defensive end Aaron Smith (left arm) and tackle Flozell Adams (left ankle).

Miami fell to 3-3, with all the defeats coming at home.

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

But the Dolphins' point total was the highest against stingy 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 James Harrison on Cleveland's Joshua Cribbs , which drew the Pittsburgh linebacker a $75,000 fine.

Maybe that robbed the Steelers of a little zeal.

"It was the same game except for one play where I decided to step off instead of putting my face in the fan," Harrison said. "It was when Ronnie Brown was coming across the middle to my inside and I had a chance to put my head in there. ... I didn't want to get a helmet-to-helmet."

With the Steelers at less than their best defensively, Chad Henne threw for 257 yards. Miami took the 22-20 lead when Dan Carpenter kicked his fifth field goal with 5:17 left.

Emmanuel Sanders returned the kickoff 48 yards against the Dolphins' shaky kick-coverage unit, and soon the Steelers appeared on the verge of victory. On third-and-goal, Roethlisberger took two steps back, then ran up the middle and lunged for the end zone. Chris Clemons hit him to jar the ball loose.

"I thought he broke my arm, he hit me so hard," Roethlisberger said.

Roethlisberger said he grabbed the ball back and cradled it in his right arm, but he conceded a Dolphins player - Francis - also had a piece of it.

"I'm not denying he wasn't holding onto it," Roethlisberger said. "How do you tell who recovered the ball?"

Francis said he stood up with the ball.

"I just don't understand the ruling," he said. "It's really unfortunate. Really, really unfortunate."

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