We’ve dissected the officials’ disastrous “fumble” call a hundred times over in the last few days and read multiple articles with disdain but nothing is going to hand the win over to the Miami Dolphins. The Pittsburgh Steelers will surely have this victory in vain. However, while breaking down the tape of week 7, signs of infliction were foreshadowed in the sequential 58 minutes of the game for the Fins. I am done reprimanding the refs for their officiating and now the Fins are on the chopping block for not executing on offense while the iron was hot:
The opening kick off saw Lex Hillard knocking the ball loose from the Steelers punt returning rookie Emmanuel Sanders while Rashad Jones recovered the fumble as the Dolphins started the game on Pittsburgh’s 22. The special teams unit has really impressed me since the now historic New England Patriots meltdown and did a really good job throughout the entire game. I’ve certainly been vocal about the Fins not running the ball at least once per series so I have no bones about how they started their offensive game. We saw the Fins run on 1st down with Ronnie Brown for a yard; fine. 2nd and 9 accompanied with a one-receiver pattern play fake to the left (of which it was Brandon Marshall) thrown away by quarterback Chad Henne. This wasn’t the first questionable call of the day from Dan Henning, The Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator opting into full protection with 7 men on the line, a full back and a running back. Besides having only one receiver in the pattern in the red zone, the whole Miami offense shifted right, including Marshall who sprinted out and curled to the right. This of course led to a substantial amount of traffic around the 10-yard line filled with Steelers defenders, flooding out the play for Henne who eventually threw the ball away. 3rd and 9 was at the fault of Brown who did not pick up a blitz on the right, nor did he break from his pattern when Henne had to pass immediately. This led to an incomplete pass and Miami’s first field goal to take the lead of 3-0.
On Miami’s first defensive series after a lucky drop from receiver Mike Wallace of the Steelers on 2nd and 9, Ben Roethlisberger was stripped for a fumble after getting wrapped up from Cameron Wake and then recovered by Koa Misi of the Fins at Pittsburgh’s 13-yard line. Still only two minutes into the game, Miami’s second offensive series started with a hand-off to Ricky Williams for no gain and another hand-off to Williams on 2nd and 10 for a gain of 9 yards that would have been very concerning if he had not gained the yardage. Finally at the 5-yard line, in the same formation as the 2nd and 9 from the previous series with the one-receiver pattern with Marshall in the same spot on the left, saw a third consecutive hand-off to Williams for no yardage, running to the same gap as the previous run. Remember, the Steelers have the number one rushing defense in the NFL. Again, Miami settles for a field goal making it 6-0.
After a great stop by the Miami defense, the Miami offense was now lodged within their own 15-yard line after a waived punt and eventually went three and out. Thankfully a beautiful Miami special teams punt and a penalty from the Steelers pinned them within their own 20.