By Danny Cox
Except for the one loss to the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers were looking like true contenders in the AFC and as if they could hold their own with the New England Patriots. Well, that was until they traveled to south Florida and faced off with the 1-4 Miami Dolphins, who could get nothing going at all so far this season.
Despite an early injury that left Ben Roethlisberger with a noticeable limp, but nothing serious, the Steelers just seemed sluggish and not all there. A left knee injury caused him to miss just one series, but Pittsburgh could do nothing as the Dolphins outgained them 474-297 in a 30-15 loss that almost seemed too easy for Miami.
Big Ben’s injury didn’t seem overly serious and he missed just one series where Landry Jones filled in for him. Unfortunately, the Steelers just could not get anything going offensively and hardly ever found a way to stay in the game. Roethlisberger finished with 189 yards on 19-of-34 passing with one touchdown and two interceptions while being sacked twice.
Le’Veon Bell had 53 yards on 10 carries and Darrius Hayward-Bey had 60 yards on one carry that he sprung for a long touchdown, but other than that, the running game didn’t help much. Miami just swarmed the offensive backfield and the secondary kept the walking wounded crop of receivers in check.
Antonio Brown, the leading receiver in the NFL, had a mere four receptions for 39 yards. Sammie Coates was held without a single reception.
Looking at the numbers, Ryan Tannehill had one of his best games of the season for the Dolphins as he completed 24-of-32 passes for 252 yards. He didn’t have any touchdowns, but he didn’t turn the ball over and wasn’t sacked a single time. No, this day belonged to running back Jay Ajayi who rushed for 204 yards and two scores on 25 carries for Miami.
Pittsburgh simply could not get past the front five of Miami to get after the quarterback or stop Ajayi, who had a field day against the Steelers. The Steelers not recording a sack of Ryan Tannehill is even more shocking, considering he was taken down six times last week against the Titans.
Special Teams: C
Chris Boswell didn’t get a lot of work on Sunday as he had no field goal attempts and hit his lone extra point attempt. Justin Gilbert and Fitzgerald Toussaint had a couple of decent kickoff returns, but nothing to help the Steelers’ field position much. Jordan Berry did a good job of pinning the Dolphins inside their own 20-yard-line on two of his five punts.
Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers just looked completely outmatched from the start—and to a team that had shown virtually nothing this entire season, no less. When Roethlisberger went out with the injury, nothing was done in his short absence, but nothing was accomplished when he returned, either. The running game had to be abandoned due to the Steelers falling behind and Pittsburgh just seemed confused from the get-go.
When Pittsburgh wins, they win in an extremely dominating fashion. When they lose, it’s almost embarrassing as they seem to not show up at all and let the opposition run all over them…literally. It isn’t as if the Miami Dolphins have a lot of weapons, but the Steelers made them look like true contenders in the AFC.
This was not a good showing in preparation for the New England Patriots next week, and if Pittsburgh comes out like they did against the Dolphins, it’s not going to be good. If Roethlsberger’s knee injury forces him to miss any time, it could be even uglier.