It was shaping up to be just another day at South Beach for the Steelers, as they gave up 53 yards to the Dolphins on their opening offensive series. Managing to keep them out of the end zone, however, a characteristics often shown by the Steelers' defense this year. On the very next drive Darrius Heyward-Bey turned an end around into a 60 yard touchdown run, and Steeler Nation was feeling good. 5-1 was three quarters away, and they started thinking about next week and potentially what could shape up to be the game of the year between two AFC juggernauts going toe-to-toe in what still is shaping up to be an amazing game. The Dolphins did not roll over, however.
After forcing a 3 and out, the Steelers drove down the field again to the Miami 29 yard line where they faced a third down, but Ben was sacked to knock them outside of field goal range, forcing a Steeler punt. Splash plays hurt the secondary for the rest of the first half as Ryan Tannehill tore apart the secondary, and Jay Ajayi ran to his heart's content, easily surpassing 100 yards and eventually eclipsing 200 against a Cam Heyward-less Steeler front seven. To add insult to injury, as Ben rolled out in the second quarter, threw a pick, was hit, and sustained a left knee injury and had to exit for the remainder of the half, breaking his tidy two game streak of four-plus touchdowns and zero interceptions. The second half did not go much better than the first as Ben threw yet another drive-killing interception after returning from the injury scare in the third, leading to another Miami score to put them up 23-8. The rest of the game did not go much better even though the Steelers made it a game with just over a minute left when Ben found Cobi Hamilton for the score to make it 23-15. One play later, the Dolphins put the game on ice when Jay Ajayi broke open a 62 yard score. The game would end with a 30-15 final, a result that makes Steeler Nation scratch its collective head.
Not being able to watch the Steelers lose might have been a blessing in disguise, making it easier to forget and put in the past, but it is worrisome. Inconsistencies like this in the playoffs mean your season is over. They still have ten games and eleven weeks to find their rhythm though, somthing they never really found under the heat of the Floridian sun today. Maybe a little dose of mid-50s and overcast skies will greet the team when they land in Pittsburgh tonight, hopefully reminding them what Steeler football is all about--discipline.