The Miami rushing defense was stout all game holding the Steelers running backs to only 48 yards. It was the passing game of the Steelers that could not be stopped at times. After Miami’s first punt around the 6-minute mark of the first quarter, the Steelers started to gain momentum after picking up a read of a corner blitz by the Dolphins, releasing the Pittsburgh running game to a huge gain of 18 yards. At this point the Steelers went into a scoring drive using a no-huddle offense. After observing all the Miami games this season, a no-huddle offense has shown to throw the Miami defense off (think back to the New England Patriots in week 4). This eventually exposed the Miami secondary on a 3rd and 16 when Roethlisberger scrambled out of the pocket throwing to a wide-open Heinz Ward for a 43-yard pick up down at the Miami 11. The Steelers were eventually stopped on the Miami 4-yard line and settled for a field goal moving the score to 6-3, Fins to wrap up the first quarter.
The Miami offense finally started to find a rhythm on their first drive in the second quarter as Henne began the series with an impressive throw to Marshall across the middle for a big gain and a hand-off to Williams. The next play, which resulted in the only Dolphins turnover of the game, would be revisited time and time again in this game and prove to be a success. A quick pass to Brian Hartline at the line of scrimmage was then a fumble as Hartline tried to make more out of the play than he could. That eventually led to a Steelers touchdown when Heinz Ward shook Benny Sapp at the Miami 10-yard line to grab the lead at 10-6.
Luckily, Miami continued with the momentum from their previous drive before the Hartline fumble. Henning’s play calls proved reasonable and didn’t break up the offensive rhythm, particularly Hennes. Miami fell short again however, as they managed to get to the 4-yard line to only kick another filed goal. One thing I did want to point out was that on the drives last first down before the field goal, the Dolphins called a time-out. This continually happens at the most random points with the Miami offense for reasons I’m not entirely sure of and the trend continued throughout this game as well.
The ensuing Steelers drive only lasted one play as Roethlisberger aired out a bomb to Wallace for a touchdown. Jason Allen was the victim once again, even after leveraging a five-yard cushion from Wallace before the snap. Allen is questionable as a starter in the NFL. He fluctuates like a manic-depressive. He most certainly can come up with the big plays and interceptions as we saw in Minnesota, but again, very much the opposite against the New York Jets at home.
Miami’s last drive of the half was executed perfectly by Henning and Henne, which culminated with a Devone Bess catch and run for a touchdown while the Miami defense capped off the half with a huge stop of the Steelers at the 50-yard line to end it at 17-16 Steelers.
The play calling of Henning was skeptical at best to open up the game, particularly when it was most crucial during two huge Miami turnovers. Execution was needed, not field goals; it just wasn’t enough. Henning validated himself as the play calling improved further into the half, when possibly it was taken into consideration that the Steelers have the number one rushing defense in the NFL. Not all falls on Henning’s shoulders however. Jason Allen, Ronnie Brown, and Bennie Sapp, to name a few, are playing under par and their performance proved it.