The Pittsburgh Steelers have looked in control for most of the first half, jumping out to a 20-6 lead. Ben Roethlisberger connected on touchdown passes of 50 and 62 yards to Antonio Brown on their first two drives. Le’Veon Bell rushed for 83 yards on 10 carries on the third drive, which he punctuated with a rushing touchdown.
Since then, the results have varied. The Steelers looked in business on their fourth drive as well until Roethlisberger nearly threw an interception to the nose tackle dropping into coverage. Soon after, he threw a ball to Brown that bounced off his hands and was intercepted. The Dolphins nearly turned that into points, but James Harrison closed out the half with a strip sack on first and goal that Stephon Tuitt cleaned up with the fumble recovery.
Of note is that Ross Cockrell came off late when he was hit by Mike Mitchell in friendly fire. He is definitely going through the concussion protocol at the moment.
Update, according to Burt Lauten, Cockrell was cleared of a concussion. Chris Boswell started the half with a touchback after the Steelers realized that their first-half kickoff strategy was clearly not working.
On first down, Matt Moore started the half with a seven-yard completion to his tight end. On second down, penetration led to Jay Ajayi being stopped for a loss. On third and four, after a timeout, Moore rolled out to his right, finding Jarvis Landry, who spun away from Cockrell for extra yardage. After a short gain on the run, Sean Davis missed on the run blitz, but the gain was still held to one. On third and six, Moore found Landry again for another first down, picking up 11. Mitchell, however, came in on a safety blitz, sacking Moore and knocking the ball loose again, with L.T. Walton recovering for the Steelers.
On the first play of the half for the Steelers, Roethlisberger kept the ball for four yards. Showing superb patience, Bell went up the middle for 15. From the Dolphins’ 40, more patient running added eight yards. On second and two, Bell found the left sideline after looking like he might be bottled up, picking up 26 and setting up first and goal. From the six, a screen to Brown failed to advance the ball. Bell was stopped for no gain on second down. Roethlisberger was sacked on third and goal, their first sack allowed of the game. Boswell was good on the field goal attempt, making it a three-possession game at 23-6.
Ryan Shazier picked off Moore on the very next play, dropping into coverage after the snap. That was his fourth interception of the year. That third turnover of the game set the offense up at the 25. Showing a heavy run look, the ball went to Bell, picking up three off the left end. On second and seven, he turned a negative play into a one-yard gain. On third and six, Roethlisberger found Ayers for the conversion, but Eli Rogers was flagged for a blindside block, and a 15-yard penalty. Now third and 11, Roethlisberger scrambled up the middle, nearly losing the ball, for eight, and called the field goal unit off the field, but just to try to draw the defense offsides. The Dolphins then jumped offsides on the field goal attempt.
Now from the 13, Bell was limited to two up the middle. Some hard yardage up the middle racked up another three to set up a third and five. On third and five, they ran Bell on the draw, pretty much untouched into the end zone from eight yards out. David DeCastro on the pull and David Johnson led the way. With the score, Bell now has 165 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns.
After falling 30-6, the Dolphins began their response drive with a good kickoff return near midfield, though it included an obvious block in the back that was not called.
From the Steelers’ 48, Ajayi was chased out of bounds by Cockrell after about four. Sims was held to a gain of two to set up third and four. Ajayi was hammered by Mitchell looking to run between the tackles by Tuitt. On fourth and four, Tuitt dragged Moore down after he tried to scramble, preventing him from reaching the sticks and forcing a turnover on downs.
Taking over at the 40, Bell picked up four yards to close out the third quarter. On second and six, Bell was hammered in the backfield, losing those four yards he just gained. On third and 10, Roethlisberger was incomplete on the slant route to Brown. Jordan Berry came on for the first time in the game to punt. He kicked it just 37 yards, rolling out at the 23.
Kenny Stills ran back into coverage for no gain on the screen. On second down, however, Moore got the ball over Shazier to Stills for 12. Tuitt and Harrison stopped Ajayi for no gain on the next play. Harrison and Dupree looked to share a sack for a loss of five on second down. Shazier was there to make the stop after the short catch for three yards. Punting on fourth and 12, Brown fielded the ball on a hop and returned to to about the 30.
With Bell still in the game, he picked up two yards on the ground on first down. Brown was open on the crosser, but dropped the ball. He has not been much of a presence since his huge first quarter. On third and eight, Roethlisberger threw too deep to Brown for an incompletion. The Dolphins took over at the 30 after the punt.
Moore got the ball out against the blitz for six yards on the first play of the drive. From the 36, the short pass to Landry over the middle went for five. Stills, however, picked up 26 down the seam on the next play. From The Steelers’ 36, Ajayi picked up five, but stayed down after the play. @OmarKelly is probably feeling pretty dumb right now about his early-week #hottaek between Ajayi and Bell.
Another pass to Landry went for 11. From the 17, Landry got all the way down to the four. On first and goal, the runner was dropped for a loss. Back to the six, Moore threw to Sims, who was covered well and limited to two. Back to the four, Miami scored the easy touchdown off play-action to Damian Williams. The two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful as Cockrell dragged Parker out of bounds after going up for the catch, leaving it as a three-possession game at 30-12.
Brown was the man to recover the onside kick. From the 48, DeAngelo Williams finally checked in and got his first touch for about three. He lost a yard running to the sideline. On third and eight, Roethlisberger made a foolish throw as he was being tackled, and it was easily intercepted for his second pick of the game. He knew probably as he threw it that it was a stupid decision.
With the Dolphins now at their 43, Landry was held to four by Cockrell on first down. Artie Burns took Parker down a yard shy of the first. Dupree was taken down by a chop block, but got up and nearly sacked Moore, only the quarterback escaped and threw for a first down. Across midfield, at the 40, the back dropped the ball, and then kicked it, but wasn’t flagged for a delay of game. Parker couldn’t bring in the second-down pass. On third and 10, Tuitt leveled Landry after a five-yard reception. Moore did convert to Stills at the two-minute warning.
From the 27, Jarvis Jones batted down the pass at the line. Lawrence Timmons blitzed and got the sack, the Steelers’ fourth sack of the game. On third and 21, he did it again, throwing Moore back for another big loss. On fourth and 31, the draw run came up predictably short. Roethlisberger took a knee to end the game, their second straight year winning a postseason game.