Not that I think this means anything – in fact, I’m about 99.9% sure that it doesn’t – but the Post-Gazette points out an element to this play that’s likely to enter water-cooler discussions this week – referee Gene Steratore just happens to be from Washington, PA, just south of Pittsburgh.
Anyway, here’s video of the play. It’s a strange one. It looks like the ball did come loose before Ben Roethlisberger got it across the goal line. Everyone was pretty plainly focused on Roethlisberger and the possibility of the play being a touchdown, which makes it very hard to tell from the broadcast who recovered the ball in the end zone. It does look like two Dolphins fell on top of it, though, which means that the couple of Steelers who got there milliseconds later would’ve had a very hard time recovering the ball. I guess there’s no proving they didn’t, though (maybe Doug Legursky, diving in from the top right portion of the screen, got to it somehow?), so it looks like the Steelers caught a break.
The Dolphins blog the Phinsider argues pretty compellingly that whether or not the refs thought Roethlisberger crossed the plane, they should have proceeded as if the play was a fumble and determined who recovered the ball before ruling it a touchdown. Given the information Steratore had, I think he made the right call, but he should have had more information than he did.