Tag Archives: Miami Dolphins

NFL Buckeyes (2017, Week 7)

With the “amateur” Buckeyes on a Bye and preparing for their huge matchup with #2 ranked Penn State, this week the focus for Buckeye Nation was on several former Silver Bullets that had monster days in the NFL.

New Orleans Saints wide receivers Ted Ginn Junior and Michael Thomas had huge days in back in Big Ten country up in Wisconsin against the Green Bay Packers. Ginn caught 7 passes for 141 yards and Thomas caught 7 passes as well for 82 yards to lead the Saints to a 26-17 win over the Packers. Defensively, Vonn Bell made 4 total tackles; while Marshon Lattimore collected 3 total tackles and had one pass defensed in the victory.

Thanks to another court injunction in his favor, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was able to play against the San Francisco 49ers. This comes after a U.S. circuit court in New Orleans ruled to uphold the NFL’s six game suspension of him last week.

As for the game it was never in doubt for Elliott and the ‘Boys. The 2nd-year back carried the ball 26 times for 147 yards and scored 2 touchdowns. He also caught one pass for 72 yards for a touchdown in Dallas’ 40-10 victory.  One of his backups, Rod Smith, rushed 4 times for 50 yards and caught one pass for 5 yards in the win. For the Niners, Carlos Hyde rushed for 68 yards on 14 carries and caught 4 passes for 20 yards in defeat.

The Indianapolis Colts Ohio State trio of Malik Hooker, John Simon and Jonathan Hankins had a day to forget against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The rookie had 2 tackles, but had to leave the game with a knee injury and didn’t return. Simon only had 1 tackle and 1 QB hit and Hankins made 3 total tackles in the 27-0 loss. The Colts are now 2-5 on the season.

It was also a rough day for Rookie Curtis Samuel and his Carolina Panthers teammates. Samuel had a huge drop on a pitch from Cam Newton that resulted in a 75-yard touchdown return for the Chicago Bears. Samuel caught one pass for twenty yards in the 17-3 loss in the Windy City. 8-year safety Kurt Coleman did not play and was inactive for the game due to a knee injury.

Darron Lee registered 11 total tackles (9 solo) and forced a fumble for the New York Jets in their 31-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins in south Florida.

Nate Ebner had one tackle on special teams for the New England Patriots in their 23-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons in a Super Bowl 51 rematch on Sunday Night Football.

Ryan Shazier and Cam Heyward led the defense for the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 29-14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Shazier led all players with 8 tackles (5 solo) and a tackle for loss, while Heyward made 4 total tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 hits on the quarterback and a sack in the victory.

Joey Bosa had 2 sacks and 2 tackles and a pass defended for the Los Angeles Chargers in their 21-0 win over AFC West division rival Denver Broncos. He now has 7.5 sacks on the season. Bradley Roby had 3 total tackles and 2 passes defended in defeat. Tight end Jeff Heuerman didn’t record any stats in the loss.

Eli Apple made 5 tackles (4 solo) and 2 passes defensed and Curtis Grant collected 6 tackles (4 solo) for the New York Giants in a 24-7 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks. Tight end Nick Vanett caught one pass for 12 yards to help Seattle get the victory.

Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles faced off against Terrelle Pryor Senior and Washington in a NFC East clash on Monday Night Football in the “City of Brotherly Love.” Pryor senior didn’t get into the game  until his team’s third series. Once in the game, he was targeted 4 times and only caught 2 passes for 14 yards. For the Eagles, Malcolm Jenkins led the team with 10 solo tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss and a QB hit to lead Philadelphia to the 34-24 win. The Eagles now have the best record in the NFL at 6-1.

Braxton Miller and the Houston Texans were on a Bye this week. So was Taylor Decker of the Detroit Lions. Gareon Conley of the Oakland Raiders missed his fourth consecutive game with a shin injury. The Raiders beat the Kansas City Chiefs in dramatic fashion 31-30 on Thursday Night Football.

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Steelers Avenge Ugly Early Season Loss

Steelers Nation knows they’ve got the best offensive weapon in the NFL. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

Remember when the Miami Dolphins beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-15 in week six? The Steelers avenged that ugly loss that started their mid-season 4-game losing streak, with a 30-12 domination in the Wild Card round.

It was the first postseason game the “Killer B’s” of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell played together. And they didn’t disappoint. From the first drive, you could see the explosion coming.

Bell, in his first postseason action of his 4-year career, ran for 11 yards for a first down on the first play. The 2nd play Roethlisberger threw a strike to Brown for a 7-yard gain. Two plays later, Big Ben hit AB on a screen-pass for what looked like it was going to be a 5-yard gain, but Brown showing the patience that we see week after week from Bell, set up a block from tight end Jesse James to spring for a 50-yard touchdown. His first postseason touchdown of his career. 5 plays, 85 yards in 2:45 minutes. Pittsburgh 7-0. 

The second drive, after the defense forced Miami to punt, went 6 plays, 90 yards and another six points for AB in 3:10 minutes.  Just that quick, 14-0 Pittsburgh, before Miami knew what happened. Brown had 3 receptions for 119 yards in the first quarter. He finished the game with 5 catches for a buck-twenty four.

From there offensive coordinator Todd Haley made a concerted effort to run down the throat of the 30th ranked rush defense. On the third Pittsburgh offensive drive, Bell carried the ball all 10 plays, for 78 yards and a touchdown to bleed 5:27 off the clock. 20-3, Pittsburgh. Bell once again showed why he’s the best back, and possibly best offensive weapon in the League.

I said in my preview of this matchup that Bell would touch the ball 25+ times. That’s the formula this team has followed during this 8-game win streak going back to week 11. Sunday versus the Dolphins he rushed 29 times for a Steelers postseason record 167 yards, and caught 2 passes for 7 yards. Down in South Florida, he rushed only 10 times for 53 yards down, and caught 6 passes for 55 yards. Anybody with any football knowledge knew that he wasn’t going to have only 16 touches again. 

While his two interceptions will be scrutinized over the next seven days, Roethlisberger set the table nicely for Bell to eat the way he did. #7 connected on a postseason career high 11 consecutive completions in the first half to keep the Miami defense off balance. In the first half he was 11 of 12 for 188 yards and those 2 touchdowns to Brown. He finished the game with 197 yards on 13 of 18 and a 105.3 rating.

While everyone will gush over the offense, it’s the defensive performance that gives Steelers Nation more confidence that a trip to Houston in February isn’t a pipe dream.

Keith Butler’s unit avenged their worse defensive performance of the season, when they allowed Ajayi to rush for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns, 8.2 yards per carry. Go back and watch the highlights of that embarrassing loss, and on those long runs by Ajayi you won’t see jersey numbers 92, 50, 48, 28 and 25 anywhere in the plays. That’s because they weren’t in the game at the time. They all were there in the Wild Card game, and he only carried the ball 16 times for 33 yards, for a 2.1 yard per carry average.

A more focused defensive unit showed up from the jump. The first drive they only allowed 16 total yards (-1 rushing) in 4 plays. The D that’s been brutally scrutinized all season long brought their A game.

James Harrison’s (10 tackles and 1.5 sacks vs. Miami) strip sack of Matt Moore, recovered by Stephon Tuitt, in the final seconds of the first half in the red zone killed any momentum the Dolphins were building to close the deficit from 20-13 or 20-9 before the break.

A strong positive drive to start the second half by Miami ended when another strip sack fumble, this time by Mike Mitchell, thwarted another ‘Phins scoring opportunity.

On the day they forced 3 turnovers (1 interception, 2 fumbles) by Matt Moore. He was sacked 5 times for negative 36 yards and hit a total of 9 times. Miami was 6-14 on third down and 2-4 on 4th down.

Pittsburgh is clicking on all cylinders, and backing up Bell’s comments that no one wants to see them in these playoffs. This is the most complete performance this Steelers team has had on both sides of the ball all season. Teams already feared the offense, but now the defense is playing complimentary football and that makes them even more dangerous.

The Steelers will attempt to avenge offensive coordinator Todd Haley against the team that gave him his first head coaching job, the Kansas City Chiefs, while trying to avoid allowing them to return the favor from the 43-14 week four beat down at Heinz Field.

Kickoff is Sunday at 1:05 pm in Arrowhead Stadium.

EXTRA POINTS

  • With the win, Pittsburgh won their 35th postseason game, an NFL record.
  • James Harrison became the second oldest player to record a sack in the playoffs.
  • Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass for the 44th consecutive game, the second longest active streak.
  • Bell 167 yards is a Steelers postseason single game rushing record.

Wild Card Preview: Steelers Seek Revenge Against Dolphins

The Steelers were dominated by the Dolphins in October, 30-15. Their recent 7-game surge points to them returning the favor. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

One playoff win since 2011. A 30-15 loss in week six. 222 rushing yards. Those are some of the things the Pittsburgh Steelers will hear this week as they prepare for their rematch with the Miami Dolphins in their Wild Card round meeting.

They’ll also be told Miami has their number. The Steelers have lost the last two games to Dolphins, which includes a 34-28 loss the last time the ‘Phins visited the Steel City in December of 2013.

The AFC’s sixth seed in this year’s playoffs is the underdog coming into the matchup at Heinz Field. But, they’ll have plenty of confidence.  As they showed back on October 16th, they pose several problems for the Black and Yellow.

Even when the Steelers have struggled to stop the pass in recent years, they were still formidable in stuffing the run. Not that Sunday. The Steelers D gave up a total of 222 rushing yards, 204 to Jay Ajayi alone. That was the headline. But, they also made Ryan Tannehill look like an All-Pro. The 5-year Pro had a career day, throwing for 252 yards while completing 24 of his 32 pass attempts for a QBR of 97.4. More shocking, is that Miami didn’t punt once the entire game.

I’m sure Mike Tomlin and defensive coordinator Keith Butler have the highlights, or rather lowlights, from that embarrassing loss on a constant loop in the meeting rooms at the practice facility.

The worse part of the loss to me was watching how dismal the team played on offense with all three of the Killer B’s on the field. Ben Roethlisberger was sacked twice and threw two interceptions, one of which he was injured on trying to make a tackle to prevent it from being returned for a touchdown. He was 19 of 34 for 189 yards with one touchdown on the day for a QBR of 57.1.

Le’Veon Bell rushed for 53 yards on only 10 carries. The leading rusher for the Steelers was Darius Heyward-Bey with 60 yards, and that came on one play, a reverse that went for a touchdown. Antonio Brown was targeted 8 times and caught only 4 passes for 39 yards.

However, this will be the first time since Roethlisberger, Brown and Bell have been on the Steelers roster that all three will play in a playoff game together. Bell was injured and missed the last four playoff games (three Wild Cards and one Divisional game).

Do we really think the Dolphins can contain this Steelers offense like that again? Do we think they can put up another 30 points? and in possibly twenty degree weather? The recent trend says no.

This Steelers team has done a complete 180 from the one Miami beat to start their midseason four-game losing streak. Since week eleven, the start of this winning streak, Pittsburgh’s defense has sacked opposing QBs 25 times, while only allowing 96.6 yards per game and 197 passing yards per game, with a +5 turnover margin.

Offensively, they’ve only given up 7 sacks in the streak, 4 of those came Sunday against the Browns without Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey . On the season, the offensive line has only given up a total of 21 sacks, just missing the franchise record low of 20. The last seven games they’re gaining 375.9 total yards per game, 241 via the pass 134.9 on the ground. Miami is allowing 406.1 yards per game in their last seven-games, 250.7 passing and 155.4 rushing. What does that mean?

Bell will definitely carry the ball more than ten times, and with the expected forecast, it’s more likely to be around 25 times, plus at least 5 receptions which has been the norm during the win streak. The young core of receivers in Eli Rogers, Cobi Hamilton, Demarcus Ayers and tight end Jesse James have gained the confidence in themselves, and Roethlisberger, to make an impact if Miami decides to load up on Brown as they did in the first meeting. Oh, and tight LaDarius Green, who missed the October game, will likely be back from a concussion to give the offense another weapon.

I won’t be surprised if this game resembles the earlier season one, but in Pittsburgh’s favor this time. Kickoff is set for 1:05 Sunday.

No O, No D, No W!

Bell (26) and the Steelers offense looked like a 2-4 team, not a 4-2 team with Championship hopes vs. the Dolphins. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

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.

Butler (left) and Tomlin (right) are left with more questions than answers after the D’s terrible Sunday. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

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.

Brown was held in check for 4 catches for 39 yards vs. Miami. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

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.

OTHER NOTES

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..

The Miami Dolphins Mt. Rushmore

Football is king in South Florida (in Florida overall), and the Dolphins are the main reason why.

During the 2015 seasons, the Miami Dolphins celebrated their 50th season as a professional football franchise. And to commemorate the milestone, they named their 50 greatest players in team history. When you have a history as rich and deep as theirs is, you have a list that boast some of the greats that have ever played the game.

Think about the Dolphins as a franchise. They’re the only team to complete an undefeated regular and postseason (1972, 14-0; 3-0), a feat they won’t let us forget. That was followed by a second Super Bowl title (VIII) in the following season. In their 50 seasons of play, the Dolphins have also won 5 Conference Championships, 13 Division titles and made the playoffs 22 times.

They have the 4th best win percentage (.561) in NFL history, their 429 regular season victories is the most of any team with 50 season of play or less. 9 former Dolphins are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But these are the four of which I deem are the greatest in their history, and should be on the team’s Mount Rushmore.

CRITERIA:

  • No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives. Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday. I will make a separate list for those contributors soon.
  • Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
  • Can you tell the franchise’s story without them? If no, they’re on the list.

Don Shula (1970-1995) is the Dolphins all-time leader in career wins (257) and is the NFL’s all-time leader in wins as coach (347) when you combine his record with the Baltimore Colts. A 6-time NFL Coach of the Year, Shula led the club to its only Super Bowl victories (VII, VIII), including the only undefeated season in NFL history (14-0, regular season; 3-0, playoffs in ’72). 5-times he led the Dolphins to the AFC Championship title, and he is tied for the record for most Super Bowl appearances (6). Shula is a member of the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team, Miami Dolphins Honor Roll, Dolphins top 50 players/coaches of all-time list, and the team’s ring of fame. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.

Dan Marino (1983-1999) is the Dolphins career leader in wins (147), passing yards (61,361), passing touchdowns (420), completions (4,967) and attempts (8,358). The 9-time Pro Bowl and 6-time All-Pro selection retired from the NFL with nearly every passing record in NFL history. When he retired he held 43 NFL records including most passing yards and passing touchdowns, since passed by Brett Favre, then Peyton Manning. Marino still holds 12 records, 9 of them he’s tied for 1st place. In 1984 he became the first QB to throw for 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in a single season (1994), he won his only NFL MVP that season. He is only one of three former Dolphins players to have his jersey retired (#13) and holds the team record for most seasons played (17). He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

Larry Csonka (1968-1974) is Miami’s all-time leader in rushing yards (6,737) and rushing touchdowns (53). The 5-time Pro Bowl and 3-time All-Pro selection helped the team to 2 Super Bowl Championships (VII, VIII) and the MVP of Super Bowl VIII. He was a member of the 1972 perfect season. Csonka was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987 and his jersey number 39 is one of only three retired by the organization.

Bob Greise (1967-1980) was the team’s career leader in nearly every passing category when he retired. While he’s mostly known today for his work in the broadcast booth, the 2-time AFL All-Star, 6-time Pro Bowl and 2-time All-Pro was named NFL MVP (1971, 1977) twice. Griese was under center for 2 Super Bowl Championship teams (VII, VIII) and the perfect season in 1972. He was the team’s MVP 6-times. In 1985 the team retired his jersey number 12, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

Fins fans let me know what you think. Would this be your Dolphins Mount Rushmore? If not tell me who would make up your list.

One Spot, Four Teams. Steelers Have Great Shot

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Everything is falling into place for the Steelers to clinch the final AFC playoff spot.

I never thought I would have said that after the first four games when they went 0-4. Heck, I didn’t even think I’d be saying that after the loss to the Miami Dolphins 3 weeks ago. But of all the teams vying for that final spot, you would rather be Pittsburgh this weekend.

The Steelers have caught the breaks the last couple of weeks. They played the Green Bay Packers without Aaron Rodgers and play at home this Sunday against the lowly Cleveland Browns (4-11).

The three other teams in contention for the sixth seed have tougher roads. The San Diego Chargers (8-7) play against a Kansas City Chief (11-4) team locked into their position as the fifth seed, but wanting to go into the playoffs on a better note after losing 23-7 last Sunday to the Indianapolis Colts. The Dolphins (8-7) will play against a renewed and inspired New York Jet team fighting for their beloved coach’s job and the Baltimore Ravens (8-7) are reeling after an embarrassing 41-7 loss to the New England Patriots, and playing at a Cincinnati Bengal (11-4) team that is 7-0 on the season at Paul Brown Stadium and still playing for a first round bye.

So you see, there’s a strong possibility the Black and Gold will avoid missing the playoffs for a second consecutive year, and the third missed post season in the Mike Tomlin area.

Another caveat for the Steelers, they are 11-2 in week 17 games since 2000. Tied for the best record in the NFL in that time span with the Green Bay Packers. All that’s left now is to play the games and scoreboard watch. One the second season begins, throw the records out, anything can happen. Everyone is 0-0.