Steelers’ Opponent Preview: The Miami Dophins

img_0466The last time the Steelers played the Dolphins was at Heinz Field. The game tickets were my dear husband’s birthday present to me.

The day was cold—vile, even. The temperature was sufficiently low and the snow sufficiently plenteous that I was wearing a ski bib over various under layers and a lovely Steelers wool poncho over the top of everything. By halftime the poncho (and me, for that matter) was covered in about six inches of snow. Maybe more. It sure seemed like a lot.

You wouldn’t think you would accumulate that much snow at a football game. After all, you should be jumping up on a frequent basis to cheer an impressive play or twirl your towel or celebrate a touchdown. But there seemed to be little to celebrate that long-ago grey day.

The Steelers were, naturally, supposed to stomp all over the feckless Dophins. The Dolphins live in a place which never, ever gets that cold under any circumstances short of a new Ice Age. They aren’t used to snow. This was supposed to feed right into the Pittsburgh wheelhouse, or something like that.

But, like their frozen fans, the Steelers seemed incapable of putting forth the necessary effort to beat the Dolphins, and they didn’t. They might have done so at the last second on an Antonio Brown carry, except that he stepped out of bounds by about 3 centimeters, 10 or 15 yards before the goal line. So we fans were forced to slog out into the night, wet, chilled to the bone, and thoroughly disheartened.

Actually, that Antonio Brown run (at :03 in the fourth quarter) was so crazy, I thought you might like to see the official play:

4-9-PIT 21
(:03) (Shotgun) 7-B.Roethlisberger pass deep right to 88-E.Sanders to PIT 41 for 20 yards. Lateral to 89-J.Cotchery to PIT 36 for -5 yards. Lateral to 26-L.Bell to PIT 27 for -9 yards. Lateral to 77-M.Gilbert to PIT 27 for no gain. Lateral to 7-B.Roethlisberger to PIT 32 for 5 yards. Lateral to 84-A.Brown ran ob at MIA 12 for 56 yards.

That was then. This is now. E. Sanders is in Denver. J. Cotchery is now a free agent, as they say. L. Bell would probably take it to the house himself. Marcus Gilbert may not play in this weekend’s game, but if he does I can just about guarantee he won’t be throwing anything to Ben Roethlisberger.

In the meantime, things aren’t going very well for the Dolphins. You know there’s a problem when one of the first news stories t0 catch your eye when you are looking for information on the team is “Adam Gase says he doesn’t want to know how Laremy Tunsil injured himself in the shower.” Adam Gase may not want to know but I’m guessing most of the rest of the world is interested.

But even more interesting, at least to Steeler fans, is the fact that the Dolphins managed six first downs last week. In the entire game. [They were playing the Titans.] The Jets had 16 last Sunday, in case you are wondering, although 14 of those came in the first half of the game.

So what’s wrong with the Dolphins? It can’t be a lack of helpful advice, as the team website lists the following “Partners” after their President and numerous Vice Presidents:

  • Marc Anthony
  • Fergie
  • Venus Williams
  • Serena Williams

Dan Marino is also an “advisor.” It would be interesting to hear what sort of advice he gives.

But despite this plethora of football expertise from which to draw, the Dolphins are currently 1-4, their sole win coming in Week 3 against the Browns. It’s not for a lack of good players. But let’s have a quick look at their stats.

Ryan Tannehill is averaging just over 240 yards per game passing. He has thrown six touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He has been sacked 17 times.

Arian Foster is on their roster, but he isn’t their main rusher. That would be Jay Ajayi, who has 117 yards for the season, and two touchdowns. As  a team, including QB scrambles and wide receivers, they have 371 yards on the ground.

12 different guys have caught passes. By far the leader is Jarvis Landry with just over 400 yards receiving. DaVante Parker and Kenny Stills are also heavily involved in the passing game. Their punt returner has a touchdown. Their kicker has not missed a field goal attempt yet. So there’s that.

As for the defense, it seems as if it should be impressive. The Dolphins paid a lot of money to get Ndamukong Suh, and indeed he is their sack leader with 2.5 sacks. They have one interception as a team. According to Football Outsiders they are right behind the Steelers at this point (Nos. 20 and 21 respectively.) (Both teams dropped from the previous week, the Dolphins from No. 16, the Steelers from No. 18.) The Steelers are No. 9 against the run, Miami No. 18. The Steelers are No. 21 against the pass, Miami also No. 18.

Out of curiosity I checked the Team Offense rankings, and as you might suspect the Steelers were better on offense than defense, the Dolphins worse. Specifically, the Steelers are ranked No. 4, the Dolphins No. 30. But, as the story I related at the beginning of the post indicates, Any Given Sunday and all that.

The Steelers will see a few familiar faces when they travel to Florida this weekend. First is Kraig Urbik, the offensive lineman the Steelers picked in the third round of their eminently forgettable 2009 draft. After being cut by the Steelers Urbik was picked up by the Bills and played there for six seasons. The Bills cut him, and he landed in Florida. Hopefully with the idea of semi-retirement… Of course, the face that will be intimately familiar to the Steelers is Mike Pouncey, Maurkice’s identical twin brother. He’s been injured a good bit over the past year but appears to be back in the saddle.

One face will be familiar to at least one of the players—the Rev. Vernon Shazier is a team chaplin for the Dolphins. At least I assume he still is—he was when his son Ryan was drafted by the Steelers. Several of the players are from Miami, including Antonio Brown and Artie Burns. So hopefully a good (but not too good) time will be had by all, culminating with a good time for Steeler Nation.


One comment

  • Toronto Steeler Fan

    On that last-second multi-lateral play to end the game in 2013, I have a feeling that the last lateral (Ben to AB) would have been deemed a forward pass if AB didn’t step out of bounds further up the field.


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