The Pittsburgh Steelers might as well have gone to South Beach Sunday for a little R&R, because they definitely didn’t come to Miami to play in and win a football game. The Miami Dolphins dominated them in every key area in the 30-15 loss at Hard Rock Stadium.
If you’ve read my post-game posts before, you know I track three statistical categories during the game that will determine the potential winner. If you win 2 of these 3, you’re likely to win the game. They are, time of possession, 3rd down efficiency and turnovers.
The Steelers lost all three badly. Miami controlled the ball for almost an entire quarter more than Pittsburgh at 36:30 to 23:30. Miami was 7 of 14 on 3rd down, while the Steelers were 3 for 11 and 0 for 1 on fourth down. Before Sunday, Pittsburgh was the 2nd best offense on third down in the NFL. Lastly, Miami had 2 takeaways to Pittsburgh’s 0. There’s your ball game. The only good news for the Black & Gold was it wasn’t worse, because their lackluster performance and effort rivaled that of the Philadelphia Eagles loss four weeks ago.
At some point the Steelers defense will HAVE to win a game for them. Roethlisberger isn’t going to throw 3+ touchdowns a week. They can’t allow QBs of the lesser caliber of Ryan Tannehill to look like an All-Pro and future Hall of Famer. Tannehill was 24 of 32 for 252 yards, a rating of 97.4 and never sacked. Tannehill came into the game as one of five quarterbacks to have more turnovers than touchdowns. Yet, against this “bend but don’t break defense” he looked like former Miami Dolphins’ Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Bob Griese.
But we know defensive coordinator Keith Butler’s unit struggles with the pass game, but I never expected their 5th ranked run defense at 77 yards per game, to give up 222 yards rushing. Jay Ajayi rushed for 204 yards on 25 carries. He came into the game with 117 rushing yards total on the season. The lack of depth in the front seven is starting to show, as the Steelers were without Cam Heyward, Ryan Shazier, Bud Dupree–who is on the PUP list–and lost Vince Williams for a short time during the game.
Even with the defense playing as poorly as it did, you would’ve thought the Pittsburgh offense would have a field day on the Dolphins defense. Coming into the game, Miami had the 28th ranked total defense, 17th against the pass, 31st against the run. I thought Le’Veon Bell would have himself a career day, because Miami allowed 150.8 rushing yards per game before Sunday. Bell finished with 53 rushing yards on 10 carries and 55 receiving yards on 6 catches.
Miami gave up an average of 250.2 passing yards per game before Sunday. The Steelers only gained 169 passing. The Dolphins held the high powered Steeler offense to 297 total yards (169 passing, 128 rushing). Not one player on the offensive side of the ball showed up. There were several dropped passes, missed blocks and poor play. Even before Roethlisberger exited the game with a left knee injury in the second quarter, he didn’t look like the guy who was leading the League in touchdown passes and top five in passing yards. Oh, did Antonio Brown even play? He finished with 4 catches for 39 yards and no touchdowns.
There was also more yellow on the field than on the Steelers uniforms. 14 penalties were accepted for 160 yards. That’s the only statistical category the Steelers beat the Dolphins in 6-65 to 8-95.
There’s always next week. Pittsburgh is still in first place in the AFC North with the losses by the Baltimore Ratbirds, Cincinnati Bungles and Cleveland Clowns. Next up, the 5-1 New England Patriots at Heinz Field. Kickoff set for 4:25 pm.
In his 38th regular season game Bell became fastest to 3,000 rush yards and 1,500+ receiving yards, passing Edgerinn James who did it in 42 games.
With his only touchdown of the day, Roethlisberger is now 2 away from tying Johhny Unitas for 11th on the NFL all-time list.
The Steelers have lost their last two meeting with the Miami Dolphins. With the loss, Roethlisberger only his second lost to the Dolphins since he became the starting QB in 2004. Pittsburgh had won their last 3 in South Florida before Sunday..