Stayin Alive: Dolphins’ comeback in the snow to beat the Steelers

The Miami Dolphins entered Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh with their playoff lives on the line.  The Dolphins were welcomed in by a snowstorm and a Steelers team that had been playing better than than their 5-7 record.  The Dolphins fell behind 7-0 early, but would rebound to take a 10-7 lead into halftime.  Ryan Tannehill was playing his first game in the snow and it showed in the first half.  He missed badly on a few passes and the offense looked out of sync.  However, the Dolphins came out of halftime strong and would take a 17-7 lead early in the 3rd quarter.

Photo Courtesy of Dolphins.com

Photo Courtesy of Dolphins.com

And then, things got ugly.  The Steelers drove down the field and capped off by a 43 yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown.  On the very next series, with the game 17-14, Ryan Tannehill threw a pick-6 to Troy Polamalu.  That gave the Steelers a 21-17 lead and it looked like this game was going in the direction of so many games this season.  But the Dolphins responded immediately.  They drove the field and with some big catches by Charles Clay and solid runs by Daniel Thomas (yes, Daniel Thomas), the Dolphins capped off their TD drive with a beautiful catch by Brian Hartline, tip-toeing in the end zone.

The Dolphins led 24-21, so they just needed their defense to hold on….they couldn’t.  The Dolphins allowed the Steelers to take the very next possession down the field and capped it off with a TD pass to Jerricho Cotchery.  The Dolphins offense again needed to respond.   They didn’t…at least immediately as their next two possessions ended in Brandon Fields punts.  The defense held the Steelers and gave the Dolphins offense the ball back with 4:31 to go, trailing 28-24.  Daniel Thomas broke a 55 yard run (yes, Daniel Thomas) and Tannehill capped off the go-ahead drive with a touchdown pass to Charles Clay from 12 yards out.  This gave the Dolphins a 31-28 lead.

The Steelers got the ball back with 2:49 and needed only a field goal to force overtime.  Again, the Dolphins defense stepped up.  They  forced a turnover on downs and handed the Dolphins offense the ball at the Steelers 9 yard line with 2:05 left.  Unfortunately, the Dolphins chose to run clock instead of taking a shot at the end zone for the klll shot.  I don’t mind trying to use the clock, but why not take at least one shot at the end zone. Maybe a rollout with a run/pass option for Tannehill?  If no one is open, he could run and keep the clock moving.  The Dolphins would move 0 yards on 3 carries and settled for a field goal.  This gave the Dolphins a 34-28 lead.

The Steelers took over with 1:05 left and the Dolphins defense needed to hold up again….they almost didn’t!!  The Dolphins forced the Steelers into a 4th and 4 from the Steelers own 26 yard line with :01 remaining.  Big Ben completed an innocent looking pass to Emmanuel Sanders, but then the craziness ensued.  A series of laterals (and one very questionable one) led to Antonio Brown catching the ball and racing down the sideline for the would-be game winning, heartbreaking, ledge-jumping touchdown. Thankfully, Brown stepped out of bounds at the 12 yard line and the official saw it….ending the game….and every Dolphins fan let out a HUGE sigh of relief. (continued on page 2, CLICK HERE)

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