I rarely ever gripe about refs and calls going one way or the other because, in the grand scheme of things, bad calls that both help the Dolphins and hurt the Dolphins probably even out over the course of a season. For that reason, I lay off the referees - for the most part.
But then you have calls that change games. And that's exactly what I want to spend a moment highlighting. Last week against the Saints, the Dolphins were on the short end of a couple of "questionable" calls by the refs. But one of the biggest plays of the game went against the Dolphins - and had a huge impact on the rest of the game.
Yes - I'm talking about Darren Sharper's "pick six" early in the third quarter. And yes, there's a reason I'm using quotation marks. As it turns out, it's pretty clear that the play should not have resulted in a touchdown for New Orleans.
Let's set the scene.
The Dolphins come out from halftime leading 24-10. But on the third play from scrimmage in the second half, Chad Henne threw a pass that should have been caught by Ted Ginn - but we won't go there. Instead, it was bobbled by Ginn and intercepted by Darren Sharper, who returned it 42 yards for a touchdown. Suddenly, it was only a seven point lead.
But it shouldn't have been. Thanks to Sports Illustrated's terrific photographers (Simon Bruty, in particular, got this shot), we have visual evidence that Sharper did fumble the ball before crossing the goal line. The ball then went out of bounds in the endzone, which should have resulted in a touchback in favor of the Dolphins and a 1st down at the 20 yard line.
The referees even reviewed the play following a challenge from Tony Sparano - but did not overrule the call on the field.
The visual evidence is below.
As you can clearly see, Sharper did lose control of the football about a yard shy of the goal line.
The worst part of this might be the fact that the line judge is staring DIRECTLY AT THE PLAY. He couldn't have possibly had a better view of the fumble. How does this not get ruled properly?
These are the kinds of plays that could be the difference between a playoff appearance and a season ending prematurely. And I know that there were a number of other reasons that the Dolphins lost that game last weekend. But it's frustrating to think of "what might have been" if the referees had only gotten the call correct on the field.
This also raises another question. Why the hell are there no cameras right on the goal line of each endzone? Wasn't the point of instant replay to get the calls correct? It wouldn't be difficult at all to have two cameras at the front corners of each endzone where the goal line meets the sideline to get these kinds of calls correct.
Instead, we are all left to ponder what might have been.