Tale Of The Tape: Miami Dolphins At Pittsburgh Steelers
- QuarterbackThe Dolphins are in a position to challenge the Baltimore Ravens for the sixth and final AFC playoff spot, and they took a step in the right direction with their 23-3 road victory over the Jets. Ryan Tannehill was on top of his game, as he completed 28-of-43 passes for 331 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Tannehill will have to maintain that performance in order to give his team a chance here.Ben Roethlisberger is trying to help the Steelers regain their footing after a miserable start, and he’s performing well right now because he is healthy. Roethlisberger has completed 64.4 percent of his passes and he has a 21-10 TD-interception ratio. He can shake off the pass rush and wait for his receiver to get open before delivering the ball.
- OffenseThe Dolphins have not gotten much from their running game this year, although Lamar Miller gave them a bit of a bump with a 72-yard effort against the Jets. However, they have to move the ball through the air and Brian Hartline is their most dependable receiver. Speedy Mike Wallace is their big-play threat and he is coming off a 7-82-1 performance against the Jets.The Steelers have been improving on offense after a slow start. Head coach Mike Tomlin would like to get more from his running game, but Le’Veon Bell suffered a concussion Thanksgiving night against the Ravens and he may not play in this game. Antonio Brown (85-1,103-6) has become one of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL, while Jerricho Cotchery has caught eight TDs and is dangerous.
- DefenseThe Dolphins have struggled on the defensive side of the ball this year and they have had major problems stopping the run. Outside linebacker Philip Wheeler has been one of the team’s most productive players and he leads the Dolphins in tackles. Defensive end Olivier Vernon has a quick first step and can provide much-needed pressure.The Steelers have done a decent job statistically as they rank 13th overall and 10th against the pass, but when they have had problems, their age and lack of speed have been the key issues. Lawrence Timmons has had an excellent year and he leads the Steelers with 98 tackles. Outside linebacker Jason Worilds has provided a lift with 49 tackles and 6/0 sacks.
- Special TeamsWhile the Dolphins have done a fair job in kickoff and punt coverage, they have been rather ordinary on special teams. They have not had a return longer than 44 yards this season. Caleb Sturgis is a decent kicker but he is not one of the game’s elite.The Steelers have been solid on special teams this year. While they have given up a few long returns this season, they have not allowed any touchdowns. Placekicker Shaun Suisham has had a remarkable year, connecting on 24-of-26 FG attempts. Matt McBriar is averaging 41.7 yards per punt.
This is a vital game for both teams. The Steelers are a longshot to make the playoffs after losing to the Ravens, but if they have any chance they must win this game. The same holds true for the Dolphins. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor