Everyone and their mother had pointed their finger to this one as a trap game for the Steelers. It seemed to fit the requirements – playing a bad team on the road coming off a big win. And the team lived down to expectations by continuing to play to the level of their opposition.
Did you guys know that like the Staals, the Pounceys are brothers?
The Dolphins won the toss and deferred. Miami came in with one of the worst run defenses in the league, so the Steelers came out with a good game plan to get the ball into Le’Veon Bell’s hands. The opening drive fell apart when Ben couldn’t hook up with Grimble on a third down.
Jordan Berry had his worst punt of the year and the Dolphins were set up with decent field position. They tried to piss it away by taking an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but the Steelers gave it right back after allowing a 22-yard catch and run to Jarvis Landry that was capped by Mike Mitchell taking a 15-yard penalty at the end. This set up the Dolphins in Steelers territory and from there they were able to just hand it off to Jay Ajayi who got them into field goal range by running to the left. Miami attacked the spot where Cam Heyward would be all day and the Steelers had no answer.
Miami tried a surprise onside kick, which the Steelers alertly recovered, but because Ed Hochuli wants the game to be about him, the refs said there was never a whistle to start play so the attempt didn’t count. They let Miami have a do-over and they kicked it out of the end zone, costing the Steelers a bunch of field position. The Steelers moved the ball out near the 40 but seemingly saw the drive end when Ben was sacked on third down. But wait! The Dolphins are idiots and got called for a personal foul after the play was over, so it was first down at the 40. Haley called for some trickeration and DHB took the ball on an end-around, spurted upfield, bowled over a defender…
…then took off down the sidelines. You couldn’t help but get shades of Martavis Bryant running through the Cardinals defense last year as DHB took it all the way to the house to put us on top.
Tomlin tried to step on their throat by going for two. Ben looked to the right with Le’Veon and Grimble running a scissors route but they ran into each other. Somehow, Bell stayed on his feet and Ben lofted it to him in the back of the end zone.
The defense stood tall and forced a 3-and-out and things were looking good.
The offense was clicking as Ben started to work the ball to AB and Le’Veon was getting some big chunks up the gut. AB kept doing his thing and took us down to the edge of field goal range. Unfortunately, Ben got sacked on third down, knocking us out of field goal range and forcing a punt.
The Dolphins started moving the ball again with Ajayi and some short passes to DeVante Parker. They got out to midfield and Big Dan McCullers nearly had Tannehill dead to rights for a sack…
…but Tannehill squirmed out of his grasp and scampered towards the sideline, pulling up and flinging the ball down the field to MarQuies Gray who was open behind the secondary and got all the way down to the 1.
A touchdown on the next play was nullified by an illegal formation penalty, and the defense was able to use the extra yardage to hold the Fins to 3.
On the next play, disaster struck. Ben tried to roll away from pressure and his leg was grabbed, causing him to take a few awkward steps. He seemed to recover but underthrew a pass to Sammie Coates that was picked off. Ben limped to the sidelines and was taken to the locker room.
The defense got a stop after the Dolphins took a holding penalty, but everyone was more interested with what was happening on the sidelines (namely, Ben going to the locker room) than what happened on the field.
Landry Jones came out onto the field and at this point you had to figure the gameplan was pretty much to just put the ball in Le’Veon’s hands and let him carry us past one of the worst run defenses in the league. Le’Veon delivered. His first run went for 12, then got 8 and 6 to overcome a false start penalty and put us in 3rd and 1. This was seemingly the easiest play call in the history of the universe. Backup quarterback in. A running back who just got nearly 30 yards on 3 carries. You only need 1 yard and you’re near midfield.
And somehow the Steelers managed to fuck it up. They called a pass play and Landry tried to throw it to…um….someone…down the sideline. It wasn’t even really close to anyone.
Berry’s awful punting day continued as he only managed a 25-yarder. The Dolphins got the ball back with just under 3 minutes to play and the Steelers didn’t see another meaningful snap. Miami drove it right down the field, completing short passes to pick their way across midfield. The defense forced them into a 3rd and 7 but Tannehill bought time and went downtown, finding Jarvis Landry (who is better cumulatively than the Jarvis and the Landry that we have) to get them down inside the 5. It took two tries, but the Fins punched it in.
The NFL has reached the point where the referees are literally breaking up celebrations because they hate fun SO MUCH.
Lawrence Timmons sums everything up.
The Steelers had to kick off to start the second half and Miami put together a 5 1/2-minute drive that left the Steelers defense gassed. The defense gave free releases to Jarvis Landry all game, giving him as much space as he wanted to operate underneath. Jay Ajayi ripped off a 20-yarder around the left end that took Miami from midfield into field goal range because Mike Mitchell took his second dumb penalty of the game at the end of the play. The defense came up with a stop on 3rd and short inside the 5 and the Dolphins opted for a field goal which was blocked by Big Dan McCullers.
That was the shot in the arm that the Steelers needed as Big Ben hobbled back out onto the field. Ben was clearly hurt and his accuracy suffered. His receivers helped him out a little with Eli Rogers reaching behind him and one-handing a pass on third down to keep the drive alive then AB snagging one by his fingertips. The Steelers nearly got into Dolphins territory for the first time since the first quarter, but a holding penalty set things back. On 3rd and 12, Ben tried to force one into Coates and it was intercepted.
Right on cue, Ajayi cuts one over the right side and the Dolphins are knocking at the door once again. The Steelers continue to play off-coverage, even in third and 7 in the red zone, so the Dolphins get another first down thanks to Parker. It takes Ajayi two tries to get in.
The Steelers go 3-and-out because finding a way to keep the defense off the field isn’t really a priority.
At this point, pretty much everyone is injured. The Dolphins basically started with the ball at midfield. It was a recipe for things to get out of hand but the defense somehow came up with a stop and the Dolphins missed a 50-yard field goal attempt.
Le’Veon quickly got the ball to midfield and you suddenly realized that it was still only a two-score game so maybe there was some hope. But then Ben threw 3 bad passes (including two jump balls to AB on the sideline that probably should’ve been picked off). At that point you realized the Steelers hadn’t had a snap in Miami territory since the first quarter (and didn’t even score on that drive, as Ben got sacked to end it).
From that point, the Dolphins gameplan was simple. Hand the ball off and throw a short pass to an open receiver on third down. The Steelers couldn’t stop it, so they kept doing it. Miami marched all the way into Steelers territory before they decided to throw the ball before third down and it got batted away by Arthur Moats which forced a third and long, enabling the defense to get off the field.
With 4 1/2 minutes left, it was still a two-possession game, but the offense showed no signs of urgency, running 25-30 seconds off the play clock before getting each snap off. Ben was able to complete som short passes and started to work the ball down the field. Eli Rogers started to get back into rhythm and got us across midfield (finally!). After the two minute warning, Ben took a shot deep for DHB that was underthrown and knocked away but was able to convert a 3rd and long with a short pass to Le’Veon that he took down the sideline for a first down. Two plays later, Ben hit Cobi Hamilton streaking down the left side who made a great leaping grab in the end zone for his first NFL score.
Miami got called for a personal foul on the extra point so the Steelers got to attempt the onside kick from midfield and there was a slight ray of hope.
Nope, Jarvis Landry caught the ball in the air and made the easy recovery. The Steelers still had two timeouts so Miami had to run the ball. The Steelers knew they were going to run the ball, and still couldn’t stop it. Ajayi took it around the right end, and went absolutely untouched all the way down the sideline for 62 yards and another touchdown.
Ben threw some passes. We couldn’t convert a 4th down. Whatever.
Ben has a torn meniscus. He had surgery. New England is coming to town on Sunday and Landry Jones will be our quarterback.