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Steelers WR Brown says 'I thought I had it clean' after wild, near-miss finish

| Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, 9:48 p.m.
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The Steelers' Antonio Brown steps out of bounds with no time on the clock against the Dolphins on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2013, at Heinz Field.
Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) steps out of bounds as he gets past Dolphins strong safety Chris Clemons (30) on the final play Sunday, Dec. 9, 2013, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Miami's Reshad Jones dives for the Steelers' Antonio Brown on the last play of the game Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers Antonio Brown steps out of bounds as the Dolphins' Chris Clemon dives on the last play of the game Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Miami's Reshad Jones dives for the Steelers' Antonio Brown on the last play of the game Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, at Heinz Field.

Antonio Brown thought he stayed inbounds.

Mike Tomlin thought Brown was in, too.

Same goes for Ben Roethlisberger and mostly all of those 52,489 fans who stuck out the cold, snow and another late-game Steelers collapse, as well.

However, Scott Edwards' opinion was the only one that mattered.

In a 34-28 game with no time on the clock, the field judge ruled Brown's left foot stepped out of bounds just yards away from the end zone after an unusual series of five laterals involving six players.

It ended the game and severely damaged the Steelers' playoff hopes.

Instead of the Miracle Near the Mon, it was another disappointing chapter in a season of failures.

“That's kind of how it has been, you know?” receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. “(We keep) coming up short.”

Or in this case, they came up a sliver short … again.

“I thought I had it clean,” Brown said. “I thought I separated really well getting to the sidelines, but it didn't seem quite enough.”

It has been happening to the Steelers a lot this year.

“It was just like my return against the Ravens,” receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “You hear the crowd, and you think you won it.

“It was just end-of-the-game football right there, but we came up a half-inch short.”

The Steelers were facing a fourth-and-4 at their 21 with 3 seconds left.

Roethlisberger completed a pass to Sanders to the Steelers' 46. Sanders picked up a couple of yards before tossing it back to Cotchery, who quickly moved it back to Le'Veon Bell. Bell pitched it to tackle Marcus Gilbert all the way back to the 28-yard line before getting it back into Roethlisberger's hands at the 27. Roethlisberger moved forward a couple of yards before tossing a lateral to his left to Brown near the far numbers with a lot of open space in front of him.

Brown made Reshad Jones miss, then got by Chris Clemons at the Miami 20. However, Brown's momentum carried him toward the sideline, where he was ruled out at the 12-yard line even though he continued into the end zone on what seemed like a game-winning score.

“Please step out of bounds,” Miami coach Joe Philbin said he was thinking.

The Steelers were having other thoughts.

“I thought he was in. I celebrated,” safety Ryan Clark said.

Tomlin said: “I thought he was in.”

Bell said: “I thought it was a touchdown.”

Roethlisberger said: “I thought we scored.”

Edwards correctly ruled Brown stepped out of bounds.

Still, some Steelers said they wish the officials would have let it play out so there could have been an official review because all scoring playing are reviewed.

“It was one of those plays that you would like to let go and let replay overturn it,” Roethlisberger said.

Even if there was an official review, it wouldn't have mattered much. Since the ruling on the field was out of bounds, an advance can't be given in replay. NFL rules state that the offensive team can take the ball at the spot Brown went out of bounds (with no time left on the clock to run a play) or replay the down — yet another reason the Steelers would have liked to see the play continue.

“If you are a Steeler or a Steelers fan, you would like for them to go through with the play and call it a touchdown, and it would've been reviewed anyway,” Clark said. “That's not what they did. When you put yourself in a position where you are banking on Marcus Gilbert handling the ball for you to win the game, that means you haven't done what you were supposed to do earlier.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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