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Thoughts from Dolphins 30, Steelers 15

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A quick breakdown of the loss Sunday that gives the Steelers a 4-2 record heading into their showdown with 5-1 New England next Sunday at Heinz Field.

THREE THINGS NOT TO LIKE
1. Where’s the pass rush? Sure, the Steelers were without star defensive end Cameron Heyward, but this was Ryan Tannehill and a reconfigured Dolphins offensive line they were facing. The same Tannehill who was sacked 17 times in five games. The closest the Steelers came to bringing down Tannehill was when Daniel McCullers bumped into him early in the second quarter on a rush up the middle. But Tannehill bounced off, rolled left and made a 53-yard completion to the Steelers’ 2. This set up a field goal that trimmed the Steelers’ lead to 8-6.
The Steelers remain stuck on eight sacks. The only other team with fewer sacks that has played six games is the New York Giants (6).
2. Giving up on the running game. Granted, the Steelers didn’t have the ball very much in the second half, yet they only trailed by eight points at intermission. So why did Le’Veon Bell carry just twice for two yards after being 8 for 51 in the first half? He got two carries on the first drive of the third quarter (a third carry was wiped out by a holding penalty), then didn’t run the ball again. Over the next two drives, with the Steelers trailing by 15 points, Ben Roethlisberger threw on every play, going 2 for 7 for 15 yards with one first down.
3. Step back for Berry. One week after his best performance of the season, punter Jordan Berry had arguably his worst. Berry averaged 36 yards on five punts, with a net of 30.8 yards.
In the first quarter, the Steelers’ first drive stalled and he hit a 38-yard punt that led to an 11-yard return. The Dolphins started at their 35 and ended up getting a field goal. In the second quarter, Berry tried to pin the Dolphins’ inside the 20, but his punt traveled only 25 yards and Miami took over at its 29. This led to a touchdown run before halftime that gave the Dolphins a 16-8 lead.
In the third quarter, Berry unleashed a 49-yarder, but the 15-yard return gave Dolphins possession at their 48. In the fourth quarter, Berry pinned the Dolphins at their 9 with a 41-yarder, but it was too little, too late.

THREE THINGS TO LIKE
1. Daniel McCullers, who had lost the nose tackle job to rookie Javon Hargrave, came the closest to sacking Ryan Tannehill. And the big guy blocked a 24-yard field goal attempt early in the third quarter.
2. Tyler Matakevich filled in for an injured Vince Williams in the second half and finished with a team-high eight tackles (six solo). Matakevich also had one of the Steelers’ three tackles for a loss.
3. Darrius Heyward-Bey recorded his first career rushing touchdown with a nifty 60-yard run on a sweep, bouncing off a tackler and breezing the final 50 yards. It held up as the Steelers’ only score until 1:02 remained in the game.

UNSUNG HERO
Cobi Hamilton made his first career start and recorded his first two catches, including a 23-yard grab late in the game.

WHERE’S SAMMIE?
Sammie Coates was active despite having a broken finger and laceration on his hand. He was mostly a decoy and didn’t catch a pass on four targets. This after he had a career-best 139 yards and two touchdowns on six receptions last week against the New York Jets.

HE SAID IT
“Tackling I feel is like when someone takes something from you and you feel like you have to get it back.” — safety Mike Mitchell, on his philosophy about tackling.

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Author: Joe Rutter

After 13 years covering the Pirates -- the first 13 of their losing streak from 1993-2012 -- I moved away from PNC Park and into an assistant editor's position. Now, in 2016, after 10 years away from a beat, I'm back and happily covering the Steelers.

 
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