This Isn't Over By A Long Way

Unfortunately the Dolphins left one of their worst performances of the year until last, it was a calamitous affair that sometimes wouldn't have been out of place on the Keystone Cops, what could go wrong did go wrong and there was nothing Adam Gase could do about it. There was going to come a point in the season when the injuries would catch up with them, it showed itself last week and raised it's ugly head and shouted from the roof tops this week. You have to wonder how many of those delayed Le'Veon Bell runs would have been shut down if Reshad Jones was in there knocking heads. Would either of the two Antonio Brown touchdowns happened if Bryon Maxwell was covering him, would Ryan Tannehill given the Steelers defense more to think about? We will never know.

Pittsburgh had one game plan, and it wasn't as though it was going to be a surprise, get the ball to Bell and Brown, nothing else really matter and if you look at the stats you will see that the two accounted for TWO HUNDRED AND NINETY ONE YARDS!!! the rest of the Steelers managed to muster 85 yards, they didn't really need to turn up to the Bell and Brown show. So all Miami had too really do was cover two players and keep them in their sights at all times, simple as that.

The first score of the day didn't take long as the Steelers set up a screen play, Brown caught it in the flat, stopped for a second and then managed to elude and run away from about 5 defenders, not to worry it was only one touchdown. It wouldn't however be long before Brown was tormenting the secondary again, he caught a slant in the middle of the field, Tony Lippett made a lunge to try and stop Brown from catching the ball and Bacarri Rambo took a bad angle, that is all it needed and Brown turned on the afterburners,  just like that the Steelers were up 14-0.

Not to panic, it was still the first quarter and Miami had just converted a field goal, time to stop Pittsburgh and get the ball back. The Steelers would be starting their drive from their 17 yard line, plenty of time to stop the drive. But what happened next just magnified what has been a weakness for a large part of the season and Mike Tomlin took full advantage, and why not when the opposition can't stop the run. Bell would get the ball ten straight times, not once, twice or three times but ten straight and Miami couldn't do anything about it. All Bell had to do was wait for a gap to open in front of him then dart through it. Where were the linebackers to fill the gaps, were there any safeties coming up in run support to fill the holes. It wasn't until he had gained 5 yards that anybody tackled him, he only got stopped once when they were on the Dolphins goal line.

Did anybody hear a Dolphin linebacker's name called out. Starters Jelani Jenkins had 2 tackles, Kiko Alonso had 1 with 5 assists and Donald Butler weighed in with 2 assists, that was for the whole game, not just that drive. The most active linebacker was Neville Hewitt who finished with 3 tackles and 2 assists, even Ndamukong Suh had more with 4 tackles and he had to fight through double teams, just think how many tackles Luke Kuechley would have made, he would have had a field day, this has to be the number one priority for 2017.

Matt Moore did get things going after that, it was a good job as the running game was stuck in the mud going nowhere fast. He managed to drive the team into field goal range with a little help from some trickery on 4th down when the ball was direct snapped to Michael Thomas who ploughed for 3 yards to keep the drive alive. The score was 20-6 which isn't that bad considering Miami are a second half team. Things got interesting when Ben Rothelisberger overthrew Brown, getting picked of by Thomas who returned it 16 yards to the Dolphins 27. They then passed their way down the field and into the redzone with a little over 25 seconds left on the clock. Great, 3 points, possibly 7 and they would go into the half 20-9 which considering the way they were playing wouldn't have been too bad. It wasn't to be as Moore took the snap, rolled to his right and then got taken down by James Harrison and fumbled the ball away.

Maybe the second half would turn out better as it would start with a Miami possession. Any hope of a comeback was effectively snuffed out when Moore was sacked again and yet again he fumbled the ball over to Pittsburgh. They went on to score three points, but to rub salt into the wounds Moore threw an interception to Ryan Shazier who had dropped back into coverage. This was bad enough but the Steelers would go on to score another touchdown helped by a miss-timed field goal block by Tony Lippett. Before the ball was snapped Lippett took off and hurdled the line, that would have been great but he went to early, got called for off-sides and gave the home team the necessary yardage for a first down. Miami would eventually go on to score a consolation touchdown with six minutes left in the game but it was too little too late. 

This wasn't as it should have been, especially because of the way the team had played together through adversity. It should have sent a statement to New England but instead it is back to the drawing board. 2016 turned out to be better than expected even after the loss, there is so much to look forward to next year. The team is heading in the right direction, they will have a load of dollars to spend in free agency and providing they make the right draft choices should be set to challenge for a play-off spot once again. They will also need to keep consistency by signing key free-agents, and to keep the wheels on they need to extend Jarvis Landry before he sniffs free agency and pay Reshad Jones. Don't think of this as a losing season with lots of what ifs, it is over, time to move on, think of it as a stepping stone to something better because they have the makings of a true team under the guidance of Adam Gase, bring on next season.