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Bad luck strikes as Dolphins' fumble return touchdown wiped off the board

Phillip Suitts
Palm Beach Post

A bad bounce cost the Miami Dolphins a touchdown Sunday against the New England Patriots, resulting in a 10-point swing.

With 4:36 left in the second quarter, Patriots quarterback Cam Newton fumbled on a third-down scramble. Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard appeared to recover the ball along the sideline and returned it 86 yards for the touchdown. It would have been the longest fumble return for a touchdown in franchise history.

Alas, the touchdown and turnover were overturned. As the ball bounced along the sideline after Brandon Jones forced the fumble, it struck defensive lineman Christian Wilkins, who was trying to get out of the way. Wilkins' right leg was out of bounds when the ball struck him, rendering the ball out of bounds.

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Since the Dolphins hadn't established possession of the ball before it struck Wilkins — Howard picked it up right after it struck the lineman — the Patriots retained possession, and the ball was moved back to the spot of the fumble, the Dolphins' 18-yard line.

On the next play, Nick Folk nailed a 36-yard field goal to give the Patriots a 6-0 lead.

Instead of a potential 7-3 lead, the Dolphins instead trailed 6-0. In game with big playoff implications for Miami, that stroke of bad luck, and resulting 10-point swing, could mean the difference between a Dolphins win or loss.

It also wiped away a defensive touchdown a week after Howard said the defense needed to start scoring touchdowns.

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