By the time night falls, the Steelers season likely appears over, but the team at least fought their way to a final win on Sunday, topping the Miami Dolphins 30-24 for their third straight win and a regular season record of 9-7.
The Steelers playoff hopes took an early hit when the Houston Texans rallied from down 14 in the fourth quarter to rally and beat the New England Patriots 34-27. The Steelers would have benefited from a Houston loss, and now their playoff hopes fall in the hands of the Raiders, Chiefs and Bengals.
Of course the team would not even be in this spot if it were not for a five-game losing streak, but what’s done is done, and one thing the team can take into the offseason is a three game win streak and the knowledge of finishing the season playing much better football than in the middle.
The team came out fast Sunday, scoring on it’s first three drives to build a 17-10 lead. The offense had its way most of the day with the Dolphins, as the running game led by Rahsard Mendenhall had 94 yards, and Willie Parker, playing what more than likely will be his last game as a Steeler, went out with 91 yards on 12 carries. The offense had 403 yards on the day.
Ben Roethlisberger had 220 yards on 18-for-27 passing with three touchdowns and a QB rating of 128.6. The QB ends what was his best season as a pro with 26 touchdowns and just 12 picks, and over 4300 yards passing, a franchise record.
The defense did its usual collapse in the fourth quarter, as up 27-10 they allowed two quick TD’s to make it 27-14, then a Roethisberger fumble put the ball at the Steelers 13 with 6:56 to go. The defense though did come up with a big play as Ryan Clark picked off Tyler Thigpen, and the Steelers went on a drive from their own 2 to the Dolphins 15 and Jeff Reed kicked a 33-yard field goal to make it 30-24 with :40 seconds left.
On the first play after the kickoff, Ike Taylor got his first pick of the season, taking it back 20 yards to ice the game and give Pittsburgh the six-point win. It was a good way to end what in the end will go down as a season of missed chances, and one that where if the team would have just gotten one more win, they would still be playing football next week.