Breaking Records and Quarterbacks: Dolphins @ Steelers
What a game it was! There were the amazing highs of two touchdown passes to AB in the first quarter—which gave Antonio Brown the most yards in a quarter for any receiver since 1969, for any team. It also absolutely obliterated his 59 yards from scrimmage for the entire game against Miami in Week 6.
There were the lows (or sort of lows, as the game felt so much in hand by the time they happened) of Ben’s two interceptions. Considering that his first 10 throws were completions and that he had broken an NFL record with two 50+ yard TD passes in the first quarter, the interceptions were a rude shock. As for the second one, he never should have thrown the ball in the first place. Just take the sack and move on. But Ben will never pull a Peyton Manning-style fetal position sack concession. Maybe he should try it.
Mind you, he probably shouldn’t have still been in the game at that point, given that the chances of Miami coming back to win it were so infinitesimal that you can confidently say they were zero. And had it been Landry Jones out there, we wouldn’t now be wondering whether a) Ben can actually play next week, whatever he says now, and b) just how much chance he will have against the fierce KC defense if he does.
But we also got to enjoy the amazing drive in which EVERY SINGLE PLAY was a Le’Veon Bell run, and the Miami defense couldn’t stop him. It’s a credit to the Miami front seven that they didn’t just turn in their jock straps and go home at that point. And oh, by the way, Bell’s 167 rushing yards are a Steelers post-season record, beating out Franco Harris. Not too shabby…
We also got to enjoy seeing Jay Ajayi, who absolutely humiliated the Steelers’ D back in Week 6, be held to 33 yards on 16 carries and no touchdowns. Compare that to his season averages:
- 84.8 yards per game ( 105 yards per game if you start with the Week 6 game against the Steelers which was his official notice to the league)
- 4.9 yards per attempt
- 8 touchdowns
In fact, since Week 6 he was only twice held to under 50 yards (and just barely). Until yesterday…
And perhaps most amazing of all, we got to watch James Harrison appear to turn the clock back a decade or so. He had 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble recovered by the Steelers, and will probably be getting an envelope inviting him to another “random” drug test this coming week. The only UDFA to ever be awarded the Defensive Player of the Year (2008), the oldest non-kicker or QB in the league, the Steelers all-time sack leader, he is becoming the stuff of legends.
I suppose you could call the missed PAT by Chris Boswell a low, but considering the score was 20-3 at that point, it was hard to care very much about that extra point. And it was a brutal day for kicking. It mattered a great deal more that he was two for two on his field goal attempts. And for that matter, if you’re looking for stuff to be upset about, the long kickoff return (58 yards) was not optimal. But it’s difficult to quibble when the Steelers didn’t even punt until, what, the 4th quarter?
And who to commend most on the defense? Besides Harrison, of course. Ryan Shazier, with six tackles and an interception? The latter was huge, as it stopped the Dolphins cold at a point when they could have easily crawled back into the game. It is also his third interception in the past three games. Or Bud Dupree, with six tackles, a half a sack, and a couple of hits to Matt Moore that he won’t soon forget (and which may take a good chunk out of Dupree’s game check?) Or perhaps Lawrence Timmons, with an astonishing 14 tackles in addition to the two sacks. Considering how he appeared to be washed up earlier in the season, he has had a remarkable resurgence. Timmons didn’t get his first sack, or actually half a sack, until Week 5. He didn’t manage double-digit tackles until Week 7. Really amazing.
And how about that eight-game winning streak? The Steelers haven’t won eight games in a row since 2005/06, with the final win being the Super Bowl. The Steelers can best that with a win next week, although it admittedly wouldn’t be quite as exciting.
There is so much more one could say about this game, and we will. But for now let’s just enjoy one of those really rare Steelers wins in which the outcome seldom appeared to be in question.