The Pittsburgh Steelers just suffered their worst first half of the season, even though they managed to get one touchdown on the board off a gadget end-around run by Darrius Heyward-Bey for 60 yards. But they have allowed the Dolphins to crack the red zone three times. They held Miami to field goals the first three times, but caved just before halftime to go down 16-8.
More importantly, Ben Roethlisberger suffered a knee injury and is questionable to return. Le’Veon Bell has gotten some good work, but just about nobody else has. Antonio Brown has two touches in the game, one a carry. Meanwhile, the defense has been susceptible to the run, and have given up some big plays in the passing game.
Following a touchback, the defense stuffed the run for Jay Ajayi. On second and 10, Jarvis Landry bounced off a couple of tackles to set up a third and two. Anthony Chickillo was shaken up on the play. On third and two, five wide, it was Ryan Tannehill to Landry for five yards.
Despite heavy personnel, Ajayi only picked up two or three yards, but Stephon Tuitt was injured on the play. Ajayi once again found a lot of room off the left side, this for over 20. Mike Mitchell was flagged for a late hit.
Now on the 24-yard line, Tannehill threw a screen short with a defender in his face. On second down, Williams bounced off several tackles, embarrassing the defense for 10 yards. A play too late, Chickillo was able to tackle him for a loss of one on the following play. On second and 11, Landry was good for nearly 10 himself, gaining half those yards after contact. On third and one, however, the defense was able to make the stop in the red zone. Miami looked to add its fourth field goal in five red zone trips, but the attempt was blocked by Daniel McCullers.
Roethlisberger took the field after the blocked field goal at the 19. He took to the air on first down, but his pass intended for Brown was a bit long. Bell took the draw for no gain, but amazingly there was no flag called for an obvious horse-collar tackle. On third and 10, Roethlisberger found Eli Rogers, making a nice catch on a crossing route and jetting ahead to pick up the first-down yardage for 11 yards.
Brown made a nice back-shoulder throw for 16 yards on the following play, bringing it in with the tips of his fingers and taking a hit in the process. From the 47, Bell was lucky to avoid a big tackle for loss, working wide just to get back to the line of scrimmage. Bell took the handoff on another draw, this time picking up seven, but a hold on David DeCastro wiped it out. Now second and 19, DeAngelo Williams got the quick handoff for seven to make it third and 12. Roethlisberger pump faked, but then threw an interception to give the Dolphins good field position.
The outside zone runs only continued to rip the Steelers defense, with Ajayi hitting for 33 to the 19. After a three-yard pass, Ajayi was stopped after one. Tannehill hit Parker for 11 on third and six. On first and goal, Ajayi was tripped up at about the one. He just about walked in on second down, and the Steelers dropped 23-8.
After Gilbert was brought down inside the 15, Roethlisberger targeted Sammie Coates deep on first down, incomplete. A short pass to Jesse James gained five. The pass over the middle to Darrius Heyward-Bey was tipped by the defender, and the offense went three and out. Berry’s punt was fielded at the 31 and returned for 15 yards.
Vince Williams had to be helped off the field after that coverage play, with Tyler Matakevich replacing him on defense. A nine-yard completion ended the third quarter. Ajayi picked up three yards for the first. Tannehill ran for about four yards. Robert Golden cut down Williams at the line of scrimmage. On third and six, Matakevich did a nice job of standing up Foster after making the underneath catch to hold him a yard or two shy of the first down. But a missed 50-yard field goal kept it a two-possession game.
With the long miss, the offense got their first good field position of the half. Under pressure, Roethlisberger got the ball out to Bell for 10 yards. His pass was too wide for Coates. On second down, he looked long for Brown, incomplete, the pass defended away. On third and 10 from midfield, Roethlisberger looked for Brown again quick and incomplete, defended again. Berry’s punt was downed at the 10.
Ajayi was stopped after two yards. He spilled ahead for six on second down. A completion to Landry kept the drive going. Even when Ajayi was hit in the backfield, he still gained yardage. On third and one, off the boot, Tannehill hit Gray for 19 yards. From midfield, Ajayi was finally stopped, brought down by McCullers. Naturally, he went for 13 on the following play.
From the 38, the defense was able to make the stop for no gain following a Tomlin timeout and pep talk. Arthur Moats tipped a pass on second down. On third and 10, Landry was tripped up on a screen by Timmons after a short gain. The punt was downed at the three.
From the three, Roethlisberger completed to Cobi Hamilton for 12 yards. Rogers was hit after a three-yard gain. Bell underneath picked up about 13 for the first down. A five-yard gain by Rogers was followed by a 15-yarder. Across midfield, Roethlisberger hit Rogers out in the open with room to run, but he couldn’t hold on to the ball, which will go down as a drop. A deep shot to Heyward-Bey was tipped away. A short pass to Bell picked up 18 for the first down.
A six-yarder to Brown didn’t stop the clock. Roethlisberger hit Hamilton for the touchdown on the next play from 23 yards out. That made it an eight-point game with the extra point, and a leverage penalty gave the Steelers the opportunity to attempt an onside kick from the 50-yard line.
Boswell’s boot was popped up 11 yards deep to his right, and Landry went up to get it, paying the price for it. And, of course, Ajayi capped it off with a 62-yard run up the right sideline for the touchdown to put Pittsburgh out of its misery, the second time this season the Steelers have given up at least 30 points on the road. The final tally is 30-15.