Observations From The Miami Dolphins 34-28 Victory Over Pittsburgh


Dec 8, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Miami Dolphins tight end Charles Clay (42) gets past Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu (43) and cornerback Cortez Allen (42) for a touchdown during the second half at Heinz Field. The Dolphins won the game, 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins (7-6) edged out the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8) yesterday absolutely ending all hope Pittsburgh has for the post season defeating the Steelers 34-28. With the victory Miami kept pace with Baltimore for the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC.

Given the conditions I honestly thought this game was going to be quite a low scoring affair, but that did not turn out to be the case with Miami putting up the most points they have scored all season (34).

Now, this game was not pretty by any means, evident by Miami almost throwing the game on the last play of the game which can be seen by clicking here. But, nonetheless, the Dolphins pulled it out in the end and deserve credit for that itself.

Here are some observations from yesterday’s win:

—-QB Ryan Tannehill did not impress me at all really during the first half. Tannehill struggled mightily, which could have been due to the conditions – something you may read a lot during the course of this article, but his struggles still concern me. Yet, he turned it around in the second half and put forth a solid effort after his pick-six to S Troy Polamalu. I loved his ability to turn it around right after that interception, and his throw to WR Brian Hartline was right on the money – definitely a great sign. Ryan Tannehill and I may have the biggest love-hate relationship known to man. RT finished the day completing 20 of 33 passes for 200 yards 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.

—-Miami was able to move the ball well on the ground if you look at the stat sheet. 181 yards on 24 carries is a great feat….until you take away Ryan Tannehill’s 48-yard scamper and Daniel Thomas‘ 55-yard run leaving the team with 78 yards on 22 carries good for a 3.5 yard per carry average. Nonetheless, Daniel Thomas had a solid performance gaining 105 yards on 16 carries and an excellent 4-yard touchdown run.

—-The wide receivers had a solid outing given the weather conditions. Mike Wallace grabbed 2 balls for 19 yards in his return to Pittsburgh, while Rishard Matthews grabbed 1 ball for 5 yards. The star of the day at the wide out position was Brian Hartline, who caught 5 balls for 51 yards and a glorious 4-yard touchdown from Ryan Tannehill. Seriously, I have no other way to describe it than poetry-in-motion. Just beautiful.

—-The tight ends put forth a solid effort also, given the conditions. Dion Sims caught one ball for 7 yards and Charles Clay single-handedly willed Miami’s offense to a victory in this one behind 7 receptions for 97 yards and 2 touchdowns, including the game-winner in which he broke 2 tackles and showed off his incredible agility. Clay is having quite a season and looks like he will be a great building block for this Miami offense, but don’t get ahead of yourself, this team still needs to find a complete tight end. Clay is a moveable piece, which presents a match-up nightmare from any position on the field, evident from his 40 yard reception over Pittsburgh CB Cortez Allen.

—-I thought the offensive line played well yesterday in terms of allowing Ryan Tannehill time to find his targets. Pittsburgh’s defense grabbed 3 sacks and 3 QB hits, but Tannehill had a nice pocket to throw from more often than not. Quite intriguing given the fact that Incognito and Martin are both missing.

Dec 8, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Philip Wheeler (52) at the line of scrimmage against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Miami Dolphins won 34-28. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

—-Miami’s defensive line put forth a great effort in this one. Olivier Vernon is having one spectacular season notching his 11th sack of the season yesterday (technically 11.5), while Cameron Wake also added a strip sack. The line did a great job of keeping Big Ben in check and inside the pocket.

—-Why didn’t I mention Paul Soliai and his sack above? Well, that’s because the whole defensive tackle trio deserve their own segment here. I thought they all played well. Soliai notched a sack, while Randy Starks and Jared Odrick both played well against the run.

—-I’m struggling to figure out why these linebackers are all struggling so terribly….Dannell Ellerbe is downright awful, and I understand that it would be a hefty cap hit, but I would cut him just to improve Miami’s defense. The guy consistently misses tackles, bounces off runners, struggles in coverage, and makes idiotic mistakes. Philip Wheeler is about as inconsistent as they come in terms of coverage and wrapping up ball carriers. Koa Misi, on the other hand, is a solid linebacker, but is about as unspectacular as they come.

—-The corners played well given the conditions also. Brent Grimes struggled with Antonio Brown’s speed on the day, which could have been due to the conditions, therefor I am not alarmed at all. Nolan Carroll and Jimmy Wilson both had solid days in Miami’s secondary, Wilson especially, in my opinion. He’s looked good this season and has proved me wrong after doubting this regime for keeping him on the roster this season.

—-Chris Clemons, outside of the final play of the game, played another solid game collecting a team high 12 total tackles. Reshad Jones struggled again after putting forth a solid game against New York last week. I’m hoping there’s more to the story as to why he is struggling so much this season…

—-Caleb Sturgis missed another long field goal attempt, which was one that should have never even been attempted. He finished the day converting 2 of 3 attempts and 4 of 4 on PATs, but almost shanked one….boy imagine what that would have done to the kid’s confidence.

—-Brandon Fields actually struggled a bit today getting some solid hang-time on the football, but I’m attributing that to the field conditions.

—-Marcus Thigpen struggled yet again via the return game. Miami will likely look into upgrading that position with a player who offers a bit more this offseason.

—-Fun fact of the day, the defense has forced a turnover in all 13 games thus far. Boom!

The Miami Dolphins will now turn their attention to the AFC East leading New England Patriots this Sunday. Miami will likely have to go 2-1 in the remaining 3 weeks to make the postseason, which should be an easier feat for Miami than Baltimore.

Miami’s remaining schedule:

vs. Patriots

@ Buffalo

vs. Jets

Baltimore’s remaining schedule:

@ Detroit

vs. Patriots

@ Cincinnati

Miami fans must hope Baltimore trips up and wins just one of the remaining 3 games on tap for this team to make the playoffs. It’s certainly plausible.