The Pittsburgh Steelers just keep winning, beating the Miami Dolphins 30-12 Sunday evening and extending their incredible winning streak to 8 games all the while advancing into the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.
Coming into Heinz Field as the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs Miami had one big hill to climb and as expected they could not conquer it. The Steelers executed revenge on the Dolphins for a 30-15 whooping they got earlier in the year, doing everything they should have done in week 6, playing good offense and physical, hard hitting defense.
The Dolphins stayed behind the entire contest failing to mount any sort of competitive offense as a swarming Steelers defense forced numerous turnovers and pressured Matt Moore constantly. The absence of center Mike Pouncey was critical to a Dolphins offensive line that had been playing great football, and had pushed the Steelers defensive front around in the teams prior meeting.
Without Pouncey in the mix the Fins line surrendered five sacks and Matt Moore had pressure in his face all day long. Moore’s performance was not what the Dolphins needed, although he had more than a few sweet downfield passes, he killed drives with two costly fumbles – both lost – and an interception.
Something does have to be said about Matt Moore’s toughness though. He took some big hits through the course of the game, and on one particular play he took one of the biggest hits I’ve seen all year long when linebacker Bud Dupree full on speared him near the Fins sideline. It was the kind of hit that looked like a game-ender for Moore, but he only sat out one play… Toughness personified!
The Steelers defense was playing light’s out. With five sacks, one interception, and three forced fumbles – recovering two – they played aggressive all game long. They limited Jay Ajayi to 33-yards rushing and held Miami to six points up until a late minute consolation touchdown. Props to Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler for calling a great game schematically.
On the offensive side of the ball the Steelers dominated in the first quarter scoring two quick touchdowns on their first two opening drives. The first was a 50-yard screen pass to Antonio Brown, the second was a 62-yards slant pass touchdown to who else? Antonio Brown! Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown connected so well with each other that 124 of Big Ben’s 197-yards passing came from Antonio Brown.
As for Le’Veon Bell, boy did he have himself a game, rushing for 167-yards and two touchdowns he ran for the most yards a Steeler has ever ran for in a single post season game beating Hall of Famer Franco Harris’ previous record of 158-yards. His style of running continues to amaze me, while at times I catch myself yelling “just run through the hole” he waits, and waits, then bam, 25-yards later I feel stupid for asking him to change.
As the Steelers proceed into the playoffs the trio of Ben, Bell, & Brown could not be any hotter, and the way the defense has been playing the second half of the season cancels out the tired old line of “The Steelers are bad on defense” because they simply aren’t any more. If they can go into Kansas City next week and both run the ball as effectively and play awesome defense like they did against Miami, then we will be looking at a Patriots Steelers AFC championship game (yes Houston is losing).
Despite being embarrassed by the Steelers, the Miami Dolphins future looks bright under Adam Gase. Taking over a mediocre Joe Philbin team and taking them to the postseason in his first year – without his starting quarterback – is certainly something Miami fans can live with, although understandably they would rather be playing next week… As for the Steelers, it’s onto Kansas City.