They say that the game of football is a game of inches. Today, they couldn’t have been more correct and old lady Karma smiled and walked away from the Pittsburgh Steelers. A week removed from the Mike Tomlin sideline incident that cost him a 100K fine and possibly a draft pick, Tomlin saw a final desperation play end with the side of a foot out of bounds.
The crazy final Steeler play started on the right side of the field and the typical laterals ensued until Antonio Brown got his hands on it clear on the left had side. A seam opened and Brown was gone running untouched into the end zone. The angle by Chris Clemons was just enough to force Brown towards the sidelines where the edge of his foot touched the white line. Game over. Replays showed that even had he not touched the sideline, the lateral by Ben Roethlisberger to Brown was very close to being a forward lateral. There was no need to review it.
The game was one of the coldest games on record for the Dolphins who had lost five straight against the Steelers. Miami needed to win to keep pace with Baltimore for the final playoff spot while Pittsburgh needed to win to keep their playoff chances alive. The Dolphins started out very well today despite giving up a touchdown to the Steelers in the first quarter. Miami continued to fight back and took a 10-7 lead into halftime before adding an opening 2nd half drive for a TD to give them a 10 point lead.
Then the wheels fell off the ride.
The Dolphins defense immediately surrendered a TD on the ensuing Steeler drive and then a pick-6 by Tannehill put the Steelers up heading to the 4th quarter. Unlike the last eight games the Dolphins didn’t sit back on their heals and take. Offensively, Ryan Tannehill brought the team back two more times including the game winning drive to take the final lead change.
While Tannehill had a good game, his first in cold and snow of his NFL and college career, it was Daniel Thomas and Charles Clay who stole the show and earned the winning accolades.
Lamar Miller was knocked out with a concussion early in the 2nd half and Daniel Thomas stepped into the featured back role where he ran for over 100 yards including a fifty plus yard scamper on the game winning drive. It would lead to a Charles Clay TD on one of the best pass and catch runs of Clay’s career. Clay too the pass short of the first down and was hit by two different Steeler defenders including Troy Polamalu. He wriggled free and kept his feet dancing inside the out of bounds stripe. He would take the pass into the end zone giving the Dolphins the lead. His second of the game.
For the Dolphins, the game sets up a showdown with the New England Patriots next weekend in what will be a tough fight. The Patriots come off a last minute victory over the Cleveland Browns today but failed to lock up the Division Championship. They will do so with a win in Miami next week. The Dolphins improved to 7-6 on the season and kept pace with the Ravens who won on the final play of their game against the Vikings. Baltimore has the toughest remaining schedule of all the playoff competing teams. They travel to Detroit before coming home to face the Steelers and finish on the road against the Bengals.
The New York Jets stayed one game back of Miami and at the time of this writing it appears that the San Diego Chargers will stay one back with a victory over the New York Giants and the Tennessee Titans will fall two games back as they are losing badly to the Broncos.
The Dolphins will ready themselves for the biggest game of the season and they will need total fan support on their return home. The pivotal game could be the difference between a playoff birth and another exit from contention.