Though they have been in the league together for six years now, identical twin brothers Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Pouncey only got to see each other on the same field (in a meaningful game) since the start of their professional careers for the first time earlier this season.
In that game, Mike’s Miami Dolphins hosted Maurkice’s Pittsburgh Steelers down south in a game in which the home team pulled away for a final score of 30-15. Mike was a key component in the Dolphins’ 200-plus-yard rushing effort, which put the Steelers’ defense on its heels throughout the game, but particularly in the second half.
Unfortunately, there will be no on-field reunion during the game, because Mike has been on injured reserve for the past several weeks. Kraig Urbik, a former Steelers third-round draft pick back in 2009, has been starting in his place for the past couple of weeks. Maurkice has played Urbik more often than he has played his brother.
The last time the two had an opportunity to play against each other came back in 2013, in December, in the snow. But Maurkice suffered a torn ACL in the first game of that season, so he was not there to face his brother, Mike, starting at center for the Dolphins. Mike, I believe, made the Pro Bowl that year, while, Maurkice missed it for the first time—of course, due to injury.
The Steelers, in fact, have lost each of their past two games against the Dolphins now, but they had one their five previous games going back to the first start of Ben Roethlisberger’s career in 2004. The Steelers are 12-11 against the Dolphins overall in the regular season, but 1-2 in the postseason.
Mike’s performance against the Steelers was a key ingredient in Miami’s offensive success earlier this season. Maurkice is hoping to have the same sort of impact in this rematch. The Steelers abandoned the run fairly early in the matchup between the two teams earlier this season, in spite of the fact that they were having success.
Le’Veon Bell had just 10 carries in that game, on which he picked up 53 yards. He also caught six passes for 55 yards, but it should go without saying that they left a lot of meat on the bone in the running game. DeAngelo Williams added just three carries.
In spite of the fact that the Steelers were dealt a blow to their quarterback, Roethlisberger and Landry Jones still combined to throw 35 passes versus a total of 15 designed runs. You can probably anticipate that Pouncey is looking forward to getting after the run again. At one point during the season, he said he felt that Bell should be getting 100 yards on the ground every game.
Of course, the Dolphins have an even bigger absence to worry about, as quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been ruled out for the game. They also have a pair of starting safeties on injured reserve, each of whom intercepted Roethlisberger in the previous game this season.