The following offensive series didn’t see much success due to the fact that Vernon Carey missed his block up front that allowed Larry Foote of the Steelers to go untouched for a sack on Chad Henne for a huge loss of 8 yards. Henne was looking to pass and again Henning opted into passing over running, which I believe was the correct call. At this point, the Fins were 18 yards to a first down and were unsuccessful at throwing, with two short passes to Devone Bess the next two downs. The offensive line was pretty much flawless besides this hiccup, which was bigger than you think since it stopped the momentum of a nice first series out of halftime. Overall, the Miami O-line is one of the best in the NFL allowing only 9 sacks over 6 games.
The Steelers tried running on both first and second down out of their series with no success, actually getting a loss when Cameron Wake got huge penetration on the line and stopped the run behind the line of scrimmage. Sadly, Jason Allen would again let the pass destroy the drive as he let two huge catches, one to Emanuel Sanders for 25 yards and one to Heinz Ward for another 25 accelerate the Steelers offense. Granted, the next play Sean Smith was in the game and he easily let Ward get away with a 10-yard catch for the next first down so it seems that in either situation with either corner, Miami cannot cover. Thankfully the defensive line was able to apply enough pressure to keep the Steelers to only 3 points.
The Miami defense would continue to play excellent into the fourth quarter, holding the Steelers to only 6 points (after the most talked about blown call in the NFL during week 7.) The offense, particularly the offensive line and Chad Henne played excellent as well, but curiously only came away with two field goals.
During Miami’s drive around the 6-minute mark of the fourth quarter in Pittsburgh territory with the game on the line, Henning called two consecutive running plays for a total of 4 yards when it was clear Miami should be driving for a touchdown to seal a win. I go back to my rule of thumb especially when playing against the number one rushing defense in the NFL; one run per series. Why Henning gets conservative as the Fins get closer to the red zone and in the red zone is still a question to be answered. If your quarterback is having a stellar game, hitting 11 straight completions to start the half, but yet, the Miami kicker puts up 15 points for the game and your stellar QB puts up only 7, don’t you think there’s something wrong there? Regardless of failing to put away the game, poor play calls by Henning continued past the ‘fumble’ play taking into consideration the game was still within reach.
After the Steelers scored the field goal to put them up by a point with 2 minutes and change, the Dolphins decide to blow their last timeout. The clock was already stopped since it was a field goal attempt, so it makes you wonder what the Miami coaching staff was thinking. That would cause to be a crucial mistake, as the Fins would rush their second down play for no yards to beat the 2-minute warning.
The drive started at the 28-yard line after the Pittsburgh kickoff to follow a 2-yard run by Ricky Williams and as I just mentioned, an incomplete pass by a rushed offensive play to beat the clock followed only by disappointment, as Miami was unable to execute anything especially achieving a first down.
In the first half of the game Henne wasn’t given the opportunity to throw the ball, regardless of only a handful of rushing yards from Miami’s running backs. Henning’s change of game plan in the second half moved to the passing game, which worked really well only to disappear once in the red zone. Big plays from Miami’s secondary were also crucially given away but countered in the fourth quarter to stop the Steelers from running up the score. Closing this book on week 7, Henning must learn to trust his QB to make touchdowns this weekend. Five field goals against a powerful offense like the Steelers is not good enough. This Sunday there should be a balance of running and passing against the Bengals who hold the 19th passing defense and the 22nd rushing defense. Miami should be able to pick and choose their offense at will.