In all of the football games that I have watched over the years, for the first time in my life I can say I saw the Miami Dolphins get definitively screwed on a play that should have put the game away for the home team.
The play that I’m mentioning is the 3rd and goal play on the Dolphins goal-line. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger lined up out of the shotgun, and tried running it in himself for the touchdown. But on the inches yard mark, Big Ben was hit by Dolphins safety Chris Clemons that jarred the ball loose before it crossed the plain. As you can guess, a pile ensued on the ball, and it appeared as if the Dolphins came out with the ball. In fact, when the refs were reviewing the play, one of the camera angles showed Dolphins linebacker Ikaika Alama-Francis coming out of the pile with the ball. Both Francis and Karlos Dansby also said in their presser that the refs repeatedly said “white ball”. Channing Crowder also said that the referees also told him after the play that it was clear that the Dolphins came out with the ball, but that they needed video evidence.
So as you can guess, the referees gave the ball to the Steelers at the one yard line, which gave them a 4th and goal, and the chance to kick the game winning field goal. This proved to be the deciding factor, as the Steelers went up 23-22, and the Dolphins failed to put together a game winning drive with just over two minutes to go in the game.
The Dolphins did everything that they needed to do to win this game. They outgained the Steelers in the run game, 64-58. The Dolphins got more pressure on Ben than the Steelers got on Henne. The Dolphins created more turnovers than the Steelers did. But in the end, the game came down to the Dolphins play in the redzone.
Miami only managed to score one touchdown, on a 26 yard hookup between Henne and slot receiver Davone Bess.
So instead of scoring touchdowns when the Dolphins had three chances at it, the Dolphins stuck to kicking field goals. In fact, Miami kicker Dan Carpenter converted all five of his attempted field goals, with a long of 40 yards.
The Dolphins secondary was shaky again today, besides the play of Vontae Davis of course. Davis was only targeted twice, with Antwaan Randle El registering one catch for 13 yards.
On the other side of the field an evident switch arose during the game. The coaching staff finally made the game switch from cornerback Jason Allen to backup Sean Smith. Smith started out just subbing in occasionally in dime packages, then converted the full on switch to the base formations. It appears that Smith is finally proving himself to the coaches. For one, I noticed that once the switch was made, the big plays through the air stopped coming in such high quantities/ Roethlisberger was targeting Allen the whole time he was in the game, and the killer in the early going for Miami was Allen allowing a 53 yard touchdown pass to Steelers wideout Mike Wallace.
The Dolphins offensive line for the most part dominated the Steelers pass rush. james Harrison only managed to force Jake Long into a holding penalty that appeared to happen after the ball was out of Henne’s hands. Other than that, it was the poor play of right tackle Vernon Carey that was the lone low light for the Dolphins trenches. Carey was responsible for the lone sack on Henne, and numerous quarterback pressures as well, including the hit on Henne’s arm on a 4th and 6 play that ended Miami’s chances in the game.
I was pleased with the Dolphins lines, as they dominated the trenches. The Dolphins defensive line was getting a good push at the point of attack, and often giving Chad Henne all day to get the ball out and make plays.
The bottomline in this game was that the refs screwed the Dolphins at the end. Plain and simple. The Dolphins should have had the ball on the 20 yard line after a touchback resulting after the Big Ben fumble. But as we all know, that did not happen and Miami ended up losing the game. The Dolphins had various chances in the red-zone to score touchdowns and come away with 7, instead of 3, and like the story of the season for the team, they just cannot come away with the touchdown.
- Henne did not turn the ball over once today, and finished with 257 yards and a touchdown on 23/36 passing day. Not bad for a young quarterback. But he did have all day to throw the ball.
- This offensive playcalling is getting more and more ridiculous. The Dolphins were primed to make a game winning drive, but instead of going four-wide like most teams would, the Dolphins tried to pick up yards on the ground, and had their fullback in on all four of the plays. The plan backfired, like all of Henning’s crucial play calls this year, and the Dolphins are now 3-3, and 0-3 at home.
I’ll have more stats for you sometime tomorrow as they are released. As I have mentioned above, I cannot believe the call at the end of the game. I have never heard of that call, and the play was clearly in the Dolphins favor, as they had recovered the ball in the endzone. I do not understand it, and at this point I do not even want to hear the referee’s explanation. My message to the refs: “You guys dropped the ball in yet another game. Somehow you always find yourselves the deciding factor in a crucial game for a potential playoff team. The hard hits in the NFL are not the problem, it is you guys!”.