The Dolphins attempted to pull off another comeback, but fell short to the Steelers, 30-24.
Pittsburgh Steelers (30) @ Miami Dolphins (24)
Pittsburgh came out strong, manhandling Miami on their first drive. The Dolphins have struggled in the first half of ballgames this season, and this battle was no different. The Phins made yet another valiant effort at the end of this contest, but once again came up short by less than a touchdown.
Despite this game resulting in no wildcard winner, when the coin flip transpired, both teams prepared to play as if they had a chance. This was a brawl from the get go, with Pittsburgh winning the first couple of rounds. Miami responded immediately to a strong Pittsburgh attack, but the Steelers toughed out an early lead in the first half with the help of Ben Roethlisberger.
When Miami returned to the field in the second half, they had to do so without the leadership of young QB Chad Henne, who injured his eye. Pat White stepped up to lead the troops, but was unfortunately hit hard by Ike Taylor by a fierce helmet to helmet collision late in the third. Apparently Pat White is doing “okay” after the hit, but it was a scary moment during this game as he left on a stretcher.
Tyler Thigpen replaced White after the injury, immediately helping the Dolphins get right back into the game after trailing 27-10. Thigpen quickly led Miami to a scoring drive early in the fourth and then connected with Davone Bess on a long touchdown pass to bring the Dolphins within three. On the next Pittsburgh possession, Roethlisberger fumbled the ball, giving Miami a chance to take the lead for the first time in the game.
Thigpen had his chance to play the hero, but unfortunately threw an interception into double coverage, immediately giving the ball back to the Steelers. Pittsburgh put the ball game out of reach with a field goal soon after, leaving the Steelers victorious, 30-24. Miami was resilient and proved once again that they can hang with anybody, even last years’ Super Bowl champs who were direly playing to win.
Despite a losing record, this was an outstanding season for Miami considering the talent they discovered and were able to develop. Henne has proved that he is a leader, arming Miami with a stud QB for the future. Bess and Brian Hartline have proved to be excellent receiving weapons for Henne to utilize as well. Jake Long has developed into one of the best players in the NFL. And Miami’s two rookie cornerbacks, Sean Smith and Vontae Davis, provide the Dolphins with some tremendous youth in the secondary that will only help this defensive unit become elite.
Ricky Williams is a free agent and Ronnie Brown is recovering from an injury, but if both return to the Phins next season, that will once again provide them with a lethal rushing attack. With the help of a solid draft from guru Bill Parcells and a couple hand picked free agents, Miami can certainly gear themselves with enough talent to make it back to the show.
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Written by Josh Souder