MIAMI -- Ben Roethlisberger and several other players waged an end-zone scrum for a loose ball so frantic the officials were unable to determine a winner.
That gave the game to the Steelers.
A video review determined Roethlisberger's late touchdown was instead a fumble, but because it was unclear who recovered, Pittsburgh kept the ball and kicked the game-winning field goal on the next play to beat the Miami Dolphins 23-22.
"Just a bizarre kind of play. You hate to win it that way, but you'll take a win," Roethlisberger said.
Said Miami linebacker Channing Crowder: "The refs called a wonderful game -- for the Steelers."
With Pittsburgh trailing 22-20 and facing third-and-goal at the 2, Roethlisberger fumbled as he dived across the goal line on a quarterback draw. The play was ruled a touchdown as both teams scrambled for the ball.
After a review, referee Gene Steratore announced Roethlisberger fumbled before scoring. But Steratore said replays were inconclusive regarding which team recovered, and the Steelers were awarded possession at the half-yard line, allowing Jeff Reed to kick an 18-yard field goal with 2:26 left.
"I have to have clear video evidence of the team recovering the fumble," Steratore said after the game. "It is a pile of bodies in there, and you don't have a clear recovery."
Several Dolphins argued Miami linebacker Ikaika Alama-Francis recovered. Did the Steelers steal one?
"We will take it and exit stage left," coach Mike Tomlin said.
AFC North leader Pittsburgh improved to 5-1 and remained unbeaten on the road. The Steelers won despite losing three starters with injuries: linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring), defensive end Aaron Smith (left arm) and tackle Flozell Adams (left ankle).
Tomlin told reporters after the game that Smith tore the triceps in his left arm.
Miami fell to 3-3, with all the defeats at home and all the wins on the road.
Roethlisberger, playing his second game since returning from his suspension, finished 19 for 27 for 302 yards and two scores. But the Dolphins' point total was the highest against stingy Pittsburgh this year.
The game was the first for the league's top-scoring defense since the NFL crackdown on illegal hits, a move precipitated in part by a helmet hit by Pittsburgh's James Harrison, who drew a $75,000 fine.
Maybe that robbed the Steelers of some zeal. Harrison said he held back once when tackling Ronnie Brown.
"I didn't want to get a helmet-to-helmet," Harrison said.
Emmanuel Sanders returned the kickoff 48 yards against the Dolphins' shaky kick-coverage unit, and when Mewelde Moore turned a short pass into a 29-yard gain, the Steelers appeared on the verge of victory.
On third-and-goal, Roethlisberger took two steps back, then ran up the middle and lunged for the end zone. Chris Clemons hit him to jar the ball loose.
"I thought he broke my arm, he hit me so hard," Roethlisberger said. "My arm kind of went numb."
The debate about what happened next continued long after the game.
"I saw the ball sitting right in front of me," Roethlisberger said. "One of their guys jumped on it, and it squirted between them, so I was able to grab it under the pile."
Roethlisberger said he cradled the ball in his right arm, but he conceded a Dolphins player -- Francis -- also had a piece of it.
"I'm not denying he wasn't holding onto it," Roethlisberger said. "How do you tell who recovered the ball?"
Francis said he stood up with the ball.
"I just don't understand the ruling," he said. "I had possession."
The crowd booed as Reed trotted onto the field to kick the winner. The Dolphins had a chance to make the ruling moot with a last-minute comeback, but they lost the ball on downs, gaining only 4 yards in four plays.
The Dolphins recovered fumbles at the Pittsburgh 22 and 13 in the first 2 minutes but settled for a field goal each time. Their failure to take control early proved costly.
"We shouldn't have put it in the refs' hands," Crowder said. "As we see, they can make some bad calls sometimes."
Miami kick returner Nolan Carroll left the game with an ankle injury. ... Magic Johnson stood near the Dolphins bench before the game visiting with team owner Stephen Ross. ... For the second consecutive game, the Dolphins didn't use the wildcat. ... The Steelers have defeated Miami five times in a row.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense breaks out 'row the boat' celebration after turnover
There are celebrations, and then there is the entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense rowing the boat after an interception. The latter happened on Sunday, and it was a sight to behold.
Aaron Rodgers blames sore back on having to sleep in hotel before Green Bay Packers' home game
Aaron Rodgers was sure to shoutout the members of the Green Bay Packers training staff who helped him out with a sore back on Sunday. He was also sure to make his stance known on the rule that players must stay in a hotel the night before home games.
Brady tops 600 career TD passes, Buccaneers rout Bears 38-3
— Tom Brady became the first player to throw 600 career touchdown passes, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers routed the Chicago Bears 38-3 on Sunday for the best seven-game start in franchise history.
Kyler throws 3 TDs as Cards improve to 7-0
Kyler Murray throws for 261 yards and three touchdowns as the Cardinals coast to a 31-5 victory over the Texans.
Cardinals move to 7-0 for season, roll past Texans 31-5
— DeAndre Hopkins caught a touchdown pass against his former team, Zach Ertz caught a touchdown pass for his new team and the Arizona Cardinals scored 31 unanswered points to roll past the Houston Texans 31-5 on Sunday.
Ertz makes history with first TD catch for Cardinals
Zach Ertz becomes the second player since 1970 to catch a touchdown in consecutive games for different teams.