Lamenting the Call, Realizing the Truth
By Patrik Nohe
Dolphins fans, take a few minutes to gripe. Heck, take a few days if you need it. Yesterday’s loss is the type that stays with you as a player or a fan. A very close game came down to a call, a botched one no less, and even if it isn’t, it certainly feels like one of the worst ways to lose. Today we can identify with what Raider nation must have felt during the tuck-rule game. It was agonizing. And we’ll take a moment to lament that. But first here’s a little bit of truth. That call didn’t matter. The Miami Dolphins lost this game on their own.
Now sure, the call was awful. Worse than awful. And don’t feed me the line about the officials got the call right. No they didn’t. They interpreted the rule correctly. But they got the play wrong on the field and in so doing, managed to taint the replay, making it inconclusive by virtue of their early whistles. They didn’t get the call right, they blew it so badly that they had to resort to a rigid interpretation of the NFL rule book and thus took the game out of the hands of the players.
The Dolphins did force that fumble and chances are they did recover it too, but the Steelers say otherwise. Of course they do, did you really expect them to admit Ike Alama-Francis recovered it? Ben Roethlisberger maintains he had possession of the ball all the way into the endzone (despite obvious video evidence to the contrary). Of course Ben also maintains he acted like a gentleman in Atlanta last summer too so his credibility is severely lacking, but you get my point.
The Steelers said they had it, the media tends to agree. That’s it. It doesn’t matter that IAF was the first guy on the ball in the video and physically handed the ball to the officials after the play. It doesn’t matter that the referee is a Pittsburgh native who lives and works 30 miles outside of the city to this day. It doesn’t matter that if the tables were turned, and the Steelers found themselves victims of this call, that ESPN, NFLN and the rest of the media would collectively soil itself. None of that matters.
Because nobody else cares. The Dolphins lost, the Steelers won. The league is moving on. So should Miami. The Dolphins need to get over the feeling from that call and realize the truth. They didn’t lose that game on a bad call. They lost it because they couldn’t punch in touchdowns. They lost it because they couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities.
All the whining and excuse making about the call is fine, it did hurt. But get over it. The Dolphins should have been up at least 10-0 from the outset of that game. They settled for five field goals when they needed to score touchdowns. The Dolphins and their fans can excuse themselves all they want. But until they turn the corner and start punching it in when they get the chance to, they’re never going to be on that elite level. Nobody makes it to the top of the proverbial pile by kicking five field goals.
It should have never come to the point where the game required a goal-line stand or a turnover to prevent Pittsburgh from taking the lead. Miami should have never been trailing Pittsburgh at all after getting two turnovers inside the Steelers 25 yard-line in the first minute and 42 seconds of the game. Six times the Dolphins threatened and all but one of those opportunities ended with a Dan Carpenter kick. That doesn’t cut it. That just doesn’t cut it.
Yeah, Miami got jobbed on a call Sunday afternoon. But that’s not why they lost. And it only ignores the deeper truth when you claim that.