The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

DOLPHINS KEEP THE BALL IN THE AIR

With the season hanging by a thread the Fins managed to keep their slim playoff hopes alive for another week by defeating the Steelers 34-28 on a snowy day at Heinz Field.  It was a day of firsts for the Fins as they managed to put up more than 28 points for the first time this season and also scored an offensive touchdown in the fourth quarter for the first time in 2 months.  At least for now the Fins managed to keep the ball in the air.

Statistically speaking the Steelers seemed to carry the day.  They had more net yards, a better third down conversion rate and more time of possession.  But the Fins still managed to win the game, although it almost ended otherwise.  With 3 seconds remaining in the game and the Steelers at their own 26, it looked hopeless for the home team.  Roethlisberger threw a seven yard pass that was caught by Emmanuel Sanders at the Steelers’ 33, but that’s when the razzle dazzle started.  A series of laterals ensued and suddenly Antonio Brown broke free and was streaking down the far sideline . . . and into the end zone.  But the sideline official ruled the edge of his left foot stepped out of bounds at the Miami 12-yard line.  Game over.  The replay confirmed that his foot did touch out of bounds.  At least the officials got that call right because one of the laterals earlier in that last play was actually an illegal forward pass that should have ended the play (and the game) long before the Steelers got to the Fins’ 12.

The game was played in a snowstorm, although the weather was decidedly better in the second half.  It was impressive how the team from Miami handled the difficult game conditions.   They managed 181 yards rushing, although 103 of those yards came on two plays.  Tannehill scrambled once for 48 yards in the first half and a seemingly resurgent Daniel Thomas had a big 55-yard run that set up the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.  Meanwhile, the Fins held the Steelers’ to 84 yards rushing.  Roethlisberger accounted for only 8 of those yards on his single rush of the game.  The Fins’ defense did a great job of playing containment and sacked Big Ben 3 times in the process.

Meanwhile, Ryan Tannehill played well overall, completing 20 of 33 (60.6%) for 200 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT for a 95.5 QB Rating.  Tannehill’s QB Rating would have eclipsed 100, but for an almost devastating pick-six in the third quarter that put the Steelers on top after the Fins managed to cough up a 10-point lead.  But quite impressively, playing on the road and in bad weather conditions, the Fins hung together and kept fighting back.  The Steelers would actually grab the lead again in the fourth quarter, but the Fins would not give up.   Thanks to Daniel Thomas’ fine 55-yard effort and Charles Clay’s 12-yard touchdown reception in which he broke 3 tackles, the Fins retook the lead with 3:02 remaining and managed to hold on from there.  And that is why the Steelers’ playoff hopes are now pretty much dead, but the Fins have kept the ball in the air.

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