When the Miami Dolphins opponent (Steelers) scores touchdowns on their first three drives. Having two field goals followed by three turnovers on drives is no way to answer that. Doing so will lead to a bad loss almost every time.
It is within reason that the hit Matt Moore took played a part in the three turnovers as an after effect. Also within reason was whether he should have placed himself in that position and whether coach Gase should have left backup QB T.J. Yates in. But that is how it played out and now the season is over.
Moore was almost hurt just walking on to the field for the first drive as Walt Aikens had shoved Jordan Dangerfield after the two had bumped into each other missing him and hitting the TV camera going down hard Moore even turned around to look. Things were rather chippy right from the start. And he did not have good protection in the pocket getting hit and hurried a lot as well as being sacked five times
Jay Ajayi could not get the run going early on and the Steelers were sending five rushers a fair amount of time as well as stacking the box with even more. And the offensive line was getting little to no push at the line of scrimmage. Even down by 14 the run was not abandoned on that second drive Ajayi got the ball on two consecutive downs losing three yards and then no gain. Kenny Stills got a pass for 36 yards on 3rd & 13 he did a great job adjusting to the throw even going down on both knees to catch it. The drive resulted in a FG. However the Steelers got away with a hold on DeVante Parker’s incomplete pass at the ten.
Ajayi would still be used running throughout the game even into the fourth quarter sans the last drive. He had 16 carries for 33 yards, his longest run went for eight.
A successful fake FG kept the second drive alive. Dion Sims did as well with a catch on third down for 17 yards.
On 2nd & 9 the Steelers rushed four on a fake hand off play Stephon Tuitt shakes Dion Sims’ block almost getting a hand on Moore as he had to scramble off toward the right sideline. Moore could clearly see Bud Dupree coming at him but chose to wait to the last second making a throw. There is a point when the risk was too much and this was it. A defender should either try to block a pass or tackle; one takes you high and one to the midsection where a proper tackle is made. Moore got hit under the chin with the crown of the helmet drawing a roughing the passer penalty. Dupree probably should have been ejected.
T.J. Yates came in for one play and it happened to be Ajayi’s longest run on the day. Yates has past experience wining a playoff game and the one play had positive results. He should have stayed in to see any progression or at the very least let Moore clear some cobwebs.
There was also a penalty on Ajayi after the hit on Moore for getting after Dupree. That made it 1st & 25 ( 2nd & 17 after the Yates play) on the Steelers 25. Moore’s first play back was a short left pass to DeVante Parker for 7 but was called back by holding on Ja’Wuan James also moving them back to the 35. Moore then throws short right to Jay Ajayi for 5 yards making it 3rd & 22. Ajayi was wide open on the right 30 yard marker when Moore threw it to the 11 yards mark on the left to no one, maybe a bad route/miscommunication. The 47 yard FG made it 20-6.
It would only get worse from here. Two drives ending in fumbles by Moore followed by one more with him throwing an interception. Along with a lone touchdown half way though the 4th quarter and the failed 2 point conversion made the final score 30-12.
Matt Moore had 14 fumbles in 2011 when he last started a significant number of games for the Dolphins. It seemed like they were coached out of him this season but poor protection was also to blame. 38-year-old James Harrison was getting around the left edge by coming out of his stance and delaying his rush. The first time on the same drive it was a completion to Parker. The second it was 1st & goal with 27 seconds left in the first half resulting in a strip sack. Branden Albert should have pointed out Harrison and stayed with him.
The Dolphins got the ball to start the 2nd half, a stat was posted on TV stating that in 15 drop-backs Moore was sacked once hurried eight times and hit/knocked down on five. For the second fumble Moore lost he failed to see the safety blitz coming from behind him as he ran to the right into Ajayi jarring the ball out.
On the interception play Ryan Shazier dropped back off the line of scrimmage after a fake hand off Moore never saw him and threw the interception.
Team Stats Dolphins
First Downs 18 Rush-Yds-TDs 21-52-0 Cmp-Att-Yd-TD-INT 29-36-289-1-1 Sacked-Yards 5-36 Net Pass Yards 253 Total Yards 305 Fumbles-Lost 3-2 Turnovers 3 Penalties-Yards 6-64 Third Down Conv. 6-14 Fourth Down Conv. 2-4 Time of Possession 32:02 to Steelers 27:58