They said that they had learned from their 34-3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, that their defense just didn’t show up and their offense was out of sync. The Pittsburgh Steelers vowed that they would never play that bad again-and they fulfilled that vow after beating up on the KC Chiefs and the NY Jets, but then they travelled to Miami to face the 1-4 Miami Dolphins and (to vote the Great Yogi Berra) it was déjà vu all over again.
The Steelers apparently weren’t prepared to face a Dolphins team that surely played better than their record and they demonstrated it as they beat up on the Steelers in a 30-15 defeat, improving their record to 2-4 and dropping the Steelers record to 4-2. Like the Eagles a month ago, the Dolphins looked more like the Steelers than the Steelers did as they rushed for 222 yards-including 204 from rookie Jay Ajayi. The young man made the Steelers defense look like the unit that they are: One who’s not only suffering from injures, but also courage to compete. They lost their hearts in this game.
It also didn’t help that their bread-and butter didn’t show up either. It’s no secret that the key to the Steelers success is their offense-lead by QB Ben Roethlisberger. When that unit is on, the Steelers are unstoppable, and when they’re not…you get the Steelers performance in their 2 losses.
But to add to their troubles, Roethlisberger was injured late in the 2nd quarter with an apparent left knee injury. Although he was able to return in the second half, the Steelers did not as they looked inferior to the Dolphins.
But for a split second, the Steelers looked like they were the team that destroyed the Chiefs and the Jets as they opened the game leading the Dolphins 8-3. WR Darius Heyward-Bey took a reverse-handoff and ran it 60 yards for the TD. It was the longest run of Heyward Bey’s career. Roethlisberger then found RB Le’Veon Bell for the 2-point conversion. It looked like just another day in the offense for the Steelers.
And then things started falling apart.
Miami added another Andrew Franks FG to close the Steelers lead to 8-6. Then that’s when Roethlisberger began the Steelers woes as his pass that was intended for WR Sammie Coates was intercepted, but then Big Ben clutched his knee, departed to the locker room and was replaced by backup Landry Jones who only lasted one series. The Dolphins would add another FG to take the lead and would then score their first TD of the game when RB Damien Williams ran it in from the 1-yard line to extend the Steelers lead to 16-8.
In the second half Big Ben returned, but he wasn’t at peak performance as he couldn’t get in sync with the offense as the overthrew several receivers and on their second drive of the half, he threw his second interception of the game. The Dolphins quickly capitalized on the turnover when Ajayi scored on a 1-yard run to extend their lead to 23-8.
In the 4th quarter, both teams traded punts until late in the game when Big Ben and the Steelers finally got it together as they completed a 97-yard drive that ended when Big Ben found rookie WR Cobi Hamilton for a 23-yard TD to close the Dolphins lead to 23-15. Of course the onside kick was next, but it was unsuccessful as the Dolphins secured the ball. With 1:05 left, the Steelers were hoping to use their timeouts and get one more 3-and-out from the Dolphins and have one last drive.
Wrong. The Dolphins decided to seal it as Ajayi took the handoff from QB Ryan Tanneyhill and ran it 62 yards for the TD. Ballgame.
In addition to Ajayi’s 204 yards, Tanneyhill passed for 252 yards and WR Jarvis Landry caught 7 passes for 91 yards. Their defense was pretty good as they sacked Big Ben twice and intercepted him twice. For the Steelers, Big Ben passed for 189 yards, a TD and an INT, Heyward-Bey led with 60 yards and Bell led with 55 yards receiving. Although the defense wasn’t impressive, the special teams were able to block a Franks FG attempt.
Although the Steelers lost, the other teams of the AFC North lost as well, allowing the Steelers to remain all alone in first place in the AFC North. They will now return to Heinz Field to face the 5-1 New England Patriots next Sunday.
Ray’s take: Let me put it this way: When one of your wide receivers leads in rushing and one of your running backs leads in receiving, it’s a sign of an odd game. They best way to describe the Steelers is out of sync-at least after they scored their first TD. I’m sure that it was hard for them to see Big Ben go down…but that’s when the rest of the team should step it up.and they didn’t, plain and simple. The team looked deflated and lifeless while the Dolphins looked like they played in the Super Bowl.
Ajayi was very impressive and if he keeps playing like that then we will hear more from him in the future. I’ll be fair that the Steelers defense continued to lose players as DE Stepheon Tuitt was injured along with LB Vince Williams. And as for fellow LB Lawrence Timmons…let’s just say that he lost his lunch on the field, while the cameras of CBS were rolling. Of course the main concern is Roethlisberger’s knee as he’s scheduled to get an MRI on Monday. I can’t imagine the injury being too bad if he finished the game, but time will tell. Let’s be honest: nobody wants Landry Jones to start against the Patriots next Sunday.
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