The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack


Thanks to a deluge, the conditions at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh were so bad that both teams had trouble scoring in this the Dolphins’ only Monday Night game of the season. The Steelers got the only points of the game with 17 seconds left on the clock thanks to a 24 yard field goal by Jeff Reed. Too bad it wasn’t colder as the only thing this ill-fated night seemed to be missing was a snow plow. If you ask me, Mark Henderson was probably out watering the field before the Fins’ bus arrived at Heinz Field! The all-wet Dolphins are now 0-11 in this dreary season.

The conditions were so bad that Pittsburgh couldn’t score in the first 59:44 of the game even though it started most (and ended all) of its possessions in Dolphins’ territory and Ben Roethlisberger completed 18 of his 21 pass attempts (83.3%). Go figure. Somehow the game was tied into the last minute and looked like it was going to be the first game in 64 years to end regulation at 0-0. Back in those days the Giants and Lions had to settle for a tie as there was no overtime. On this night, however, there would be no tie as the Fins’ defense finally caved in and let the Steelers march to the Fins’ 6-yard line before the drive stalled. Then, the houseful of Steelers fans’ held their collective breadth hoping that Jeff Reed wouldn’t miss his second field goal of the night which would send the game into an otherwise certain overtime.

Steelers fans should not have worried so much as the Fins have perfected the 3-point (or less) loss in this imperfect season of theirs. The Steelers handed the Dolphins’ their sixth 3-point loss in this disaster of a season which has spanned 11 games to date. This 3-point loss was all too reminiscent of the infamous snow-plow game in which the (yes they were cheaters back then, too) Patriots scored the only points of the game on a field goal made possible by convict Mark Henderson using a snow plow to clear a patch in the snow-covered field for the Patriot’s place kicker to kick a game winning field goal.

Under conditions that were clearly difficult, John Beck once again looked fairly poised completing 15 of 24 (62.5%) for 132 yards. Playing in his second start of his career, he committed his first turnover, a fumble during a sack. It is somewhat easy to forgive a fumble in the slop, especially when this rookie has not thrown an INT in either of his first 2 games, both of which having come against aggressive defenses.

Beck’s job was made even more difficult by the fact that both Jesse Chatman and Ricky Williams left the game with injuries and neither was able to return. Left without a meaningful rushing threat, Beck had to pass against an aggressive Steelers’ defense that knew he would be passing and did not have to respect the run. With 2 starts under his belt, the book remains open on Beck, which is a positive note (and this is undoubtedly more than we can say about his now backup, Cleo the Lemon).

In his “homecoming” to Pittsburgh, Fins’ $20 million linebacker Joey Porter had a good game. He intercepted a pass thrown by Big Ben to end the Steelers’ first drive and finished with 8 tackles on the night.

But the bottom line is that the Fins lost again. The old adage is that good teams find ways to win and that bad teams find ways to lose. At 0-11, it is obvious that the Miami Dolphins are a bad football team that has gotten very good at finding ways to lose. Perhaps it is no surprise that even in a deluge of rain, they once again got plowed under!

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