Miami had the lead an all the momentum. It was 24-3, and the Phins had thus far dominated. There were under 2 minutes left. Miami was driving. And then calamity struck. Above are 6 screen captures that I will take you through.
First, Bess fumbled the ball. I found it "iffy" and thought he could have just as easily been ruled down and not have had that overturned. But, nevertheless, the Saints got the ball.
Second, its 3rd and 5 from the 21. 12 seconds left. New Orleans has no timeouts. Where might the pass go? Up the field! The only choice in this situation was to score a TD. Miami rushed 5, left in a LB to guard against the underneath stuff - but why? A TD was all that New Orleans could get.
Third, its Colston's catch at the goal line on the play. Two guys are hauling him down. Now, he made the catch and turned. But as you may be able to tell, the ball is coming loose, and it actually touches the ground a moment later. So while the officials were correct in that it was not a TD, I would argue that it was not a catch at all because he didn't go all the way to the ground with the ball. It should have been incomplete. In any event, the officials stopped the clock to review it.
Fourth, its a confusing moment on the field. The ref at this moment still hasn't made the call, and the Saints are lined up for what? The PAT? A FG? My presumption is the PAT. In any case, they have their field goal unit on the field. Assuming the ruling is that Colston is down, its first and goal at the 1, 5 second remaining, and the clock will start to run as soon as the ref puts the ball on the field. Its highly unlikely that the Saints would line up and get a play off AT ALL, and it would be impossible for them to get the offensive unit on the field.
The Dolphins coaches *should have* sent the defense out there. If the Saints tried the field goal, you concede the 3 points - heck even with the special teams out there, a block was unlikely. It was more likely that time would expire and the half would end without getting the play off. AND, you had nearly two minutes from the time Colston made the catch until the ref made the call. Why in the heck couldn't you decide that sooner? Why does Miami have 7 players on the field? The one thing you DO NOT want to do is give up a TD here. Keep the goal line defense out there and don't let them score. The momentum shift between them getting what they thought was a late TD and having to scramble to get a field goal off would be HUGE.
Fifth, right after the ref made the call, here's Sparano on the sidelines calling...no wait....it couldn't be....a timeout???!!!! WTF? Why would you give them another opportunity to score? Now they can send out Brees. The clock would have been running. You are essentially giving them an opportunity to score. Why?
And finally, in spite of the two minute delay AND the timeout, Miami was unprepared for the high school play of QB stretching out 1 yard for a score. BTW, I'm not entirely certain Miami had 11 on the field in any event, though I didn't count.
Miami went into the locker room still up 24-10, but now reeling from a huge turn of events that was entirely avoidable. Sparano's comments afterward were perplexing. He didn't think they would score. They wouldn't have - if you had let the clock run and sent the defense out.
And that was the play of the day....