Steelers crumble late, fall to Dolphins 34-28
It was a play symbolic of a lost season, filled with hope and
despair and all the things in between.
In the end, though, Antonio Brown’s frantic dash to the end zone
after a five-lateral comedy of errors turned out to be nothing more
than a stat-padding exercise in chaos.
When officials ruled Brown stepped out of bounds at the Miami 12
after time expired to assure the Dolphins of a 34-28 victory, any
realistic hopes the Steelers (5-8) had of reaching the playoffs
Now, nothing but a long December and perhaps an even longer
”We’ve still got jobs,” Pittsburgh cornerback Ike Taylor said.
”We’ve still got games to play. We’ve got no time to be whining,
pouting, thinking about the season, talking about the
Now, there’s no point. Not after Pittsburgh allowed Miami (7-6)
to feel right at home at snowy Heinz Field.
The Dolphins’ 34 points were a season high as they rolled up 360
yards total offense, including 80 on a four-play fourth-quarter
drive that ended with Charles Clay running through a pair of arm
tackles by Troy Polamalu and Cortez Allen for a 12-yard score that
gave the Dolphins the lead for good with 2:53 remaining.
”I was trying to get the ball out,” Polamalu said. ”I’ve just
got to make the tackle.”
Caleb Sturgis tacked on a field goal to push Miami’s lead to
six, but the Steelers had one last shot when they took over at
their 20 with 1:08 left.
Three plays went nowhere and on fourth-and-4 from the Pittsburgh
26, things got crazy.
Emmanuel Sanders caught the pass and made it 20 yards before
running into trouble. Sanders flipped it to Jerricho Cotchery, who
handed it to Le’Veon Bell, who then tossed it to 330-pound tackle
Marcus Gilbert. Gilbert gave it to Roethlisberger, who ran to the
Pittsburgh 33 before throwing what appeared to be an illegal
forward pass to Brown. No flags were thrown, however, as Brown
raced down the sideline.
As the Dolphins gave chase, Brown crossed the goal line. While
he celebrated, an official pointed at the turf and ruled Brown’s
left foot stepped out of bounds at the Miami 12. That sent the
resurgent Dolphins spilling onto the field after the franchise’s
first win in Pittsburgh in 23 years, one that came in the
unlikeliest of settings.
”I thought I had it clean,” Brown said. ”I thought I
separated really good getting to the sideline, but it didn’t seem
Roethlisberger passed for 349 yards and three scores, but the
Steelers (5-8) lost their second straight game to assure the
franchise of consecutive non-winning seasons for the first time
”It definitely (stinks) man,” Sanders said. ” What do you
guys want me to say? I’m going to stop playing football? No.”
Daniel Thomas ran for 105 yards and a score for Miami. His
zig-zag 55-yard burst at snowy Heinz Field set up Clay’s winner.
Ryan Tannehill completed 20 of 33 passes for 201 yards and three
scores for the Dolphins. Miami blew a 10-point third-quarter lead
but rallied to win for the third time in its last four games.
”I think I need some blood pressure medicine or something,”
Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake said. ”That’s December
The defeated capped a distracting 10 days for the Steelers. Head
coach Mike Tomlin was fined $100,000 for interfering with Baltimore
kickoff returner Jacoby Jones during a loss to Baltimore on
Thanksgiving night. The kind of furor overshadowed the fact what
little margin for error the Steelers had heading into the final
month was gone.
Now it’s vanished completely along with the hopes of climbing
out of an 0-4 start, a deficit safety Ryan Clark said the team
could have pulled itself out of with better play.
”If these (last) two weeks go different, if we beat Oakland,”
he said. ”We can point to a lot of situations where if we make
plays in certain games 0-4 wasn’t insurmountable.”
NOTES: Miami WR Mike Wallace had two catches for 19 yards in his
return to Pittsburgh, where he played from 2009-12. … Miami RB
Lamar Miller left in the third quarter with a concussion and did
not return. … Roethlisberger’s first-quarter touchdown pass to
Sanders gave him 213 in his career, breaking a tie with Terry
Bradshaw for the most in team history … Polamalu returned an
interception 19 yards for a score in the third quarter, the fifth
touchdown of his career. … Brown became the second Steeler to
reach 90 receptions in a season. Hines Ward did it four times.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org