Top 10 Game-Defining Plays In The Steelers Week 6 Loss To The Dolphins

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Below are 10 game-defining plays in the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 6 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

10 – On the Steelers very first drive they faced a 3rd and 6, The defense only rushed 4 but Dolphins’ defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh blew right past Steelers guard David DeCastro which forced Ben Roethlisberger to get rid of the ball to avoid a sack causing the offense to stall out on 3rd down.

9 – At about the 11-minute mark in the second quarter, Steelers defense tackle Daniel McCullers pressured Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill. McCullers missed the sack, but flushed Tannehill out of the pocket. Tannehill exploited a blown coverage and found tight end MarQueis Gray for a 53-yard completion, which set the Dolphins up at the Steelers’ 2-yard line. The defense managed to keep the Dolphins out of the end zone and forced them to settle for a field goal.

8 – Only 52 seconds remained in the first half and the Dolphins were implementing their two-minute offense. On 3rd and 7, Tannehill linked up with receiver Jarvis Landry for a 38-yard pitch and catch thanks to blown coverage by cornerback Artie Burns. This set up an eventual Dolphins touchdown before halftime.

7 – At the five-minute mark in third quarter, Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi ripped off a 32 yard run on an outside zone run, once again setting their offense up in the red zone. The Steelers let Ajayi rush for over 200 yards throughout the game due to missed tackles and the inability to shed blocks.


6 – With just under 7 minutes left in the first quarter the Steelers faced a 3rd and 10. The Dolphins rushed four again and came up with a sack but it was negated due to an unnecessary roughness penalty on Dolphins defensive end Jason Jones. It gave the Steelers a new set of downs and continued the drive. On the very next play the Steelers scored a touchdown on a 60-yard end around to wide receiver Darius Heyward-Bey.

5 – On 3rd and 12 with Roethlisberger hobbling on his injured knee the offense attempted to convert with six minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Roethlisberger made a poor decision and threw his 2nd interception of the game to Dolphins safety Isa Abdul-Quddus.

4 – The Dolphins offense faced a 3rd and 6 from the Steelers 16-yard line. The Steelers rushed 5 but Dolphins’ offensive line picked up the blitz well and Tannehill had time to find DeVante Parker for a 12 yard third down conversion. The Dolphins scored a few plays later on a Ajayi run, which extended their lead to 23-8.

3 – With 6:30 left in the game and the ball near mid-field the Dolphins were trying to eat clock by imposing their running game. They did just that on 2nd and 11 when Ajayi took a handoff and sliced into the secondary, and was able to get the first down. This prompted Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin to use a timeout in an attempt to give his defense some rest, motivate them and stop the bleeding.

2 – The Steelers had managed to cut the Dolphins’ lead to 8 points but with under a minute left, failed to get the onside kick. The Dolphins looked like they were going to run out the clock. Instead, Ajayi put the final nail in the proverbial coffin by ripping off a 62-yard touchdown run and putting the game out of reach.

1 – On 1st and 10 with 8 minutes left in the first half Roethlisberger, again facing pressure, evaded a pass rusher who grabbed his ankle, and ended up throwing an interception to Dolphins safety Reshad Jones. Roethlisberger came up limping on the play and we now know after the fact that he injured the meniscus in his knee and has since had surgery. The interception affected the game, but the injury will affect the season.

About the Author

Patrick Gelesh
Fourth generation Steelers fan, contributing from the Crescent City. Soon to be graduating with a master’s degree in Sports Management with an emphasis in football. My grandfather and mother witnessed the Immaculate Reception, they made sure I was brought up on classic rock and classic Steelers.
  • Thomas

    Really this who game was us being unable to defend the run. The other game defining plays could be the inability of our OL to guard people leading to Ben getting hurt. Multiple times I saw Jesse James on Cam Wake, which should never happen, and then DeCastro, AV, and Hubbard (which was expected) were bullied all game.

  • Cartman54

    Can’t remember the exact time of the play but it was the second quarter we were up 8-3 and driving in fg range. Ben took a sack on third down that forced a punt instead of getting 3 on the board. I felt that was significant

  • thomas hmmmm

    The game defining moment for me when I knew the Steelers were not going to win is when Ben handed off to Bell on what looked like a delay, with only one defender in sight the defensive player grabbed Bell between the shoulder pads and neck. A blatant horse collar tackle that did not get called when the offense was moving the ball on the drive. After that the drive ended up stalling.

  • Consistent

    Very significant! I screamed at the tv when Ben took that sack

  • Consistent

    Blatant missed call and very dangerous

  • Michael James

    Good list, but for me it would look vastly different. Here are some of the key plays you left out (only my opinion):

    1) Willie Gays missed interception. We were up 8-3 and the Dolphins were deep down in their own territory. This was an easy interception and a very reasonable chance Gay takes it home for a 15-3 lead. That would’ve probably changed the whole game.

    2) Roethlisberger gets sacked on 3rd and 10 with 1:07 left in the first quarter. They were in field goal range, up 8-3 and this sack effectively cost us 3 points and was a huge momentum swing

    3) Letting L.Jones pass on 3rd and 1 with 3:07 left in the second quarter. They were down 8-9, but this drive looked good because Bell was running as he pleased, we already were at midfield and there was a reasonable chance to kill the clock with the running game and score before halftime, which would give us the lead. Instead we had to punt and the Dolphins orchestrated a 71-yards TD drive right before halftime.

    4) Holding call on DeCastro with 6:27 left in the third quarter, down 8-16. This drive looked good, they already were at midfield and Bell ripped of a 7-yard run on 2nd and 9 into Miami territory. It would have been a very managable 3rd and 2 and a good chance to cut the lead or even make it 16-16. Instead the holding call wiped out the run, made it 2nd and 19 from the own 38 and it was followed by Ben’s second interception, which set up a short field and a Miami touchdown. That holding call was huge.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Agree especially the dropped interception – that was a game changer.

  • Patrick Gelesh

    i touched on this on a previous post, completely agree.

  • Patrick Gelesh

    i touched on almost all of those points in my gut reactions post right after the game, and attempted to present some new material in this one, that’s why your points aren’t listed, but they’re all valid. The only one I didn’t touch on was point 2 because it involved Jesse James vs Cameron Wake 1 on 1 and I am not sure who screwed up the protection Ben or Pouncey. I appreciate the input!

  • Michael James

    Oh, I apologize then. I was so frustrated after the game, I stayed away from the net for a while and therefore didn’t read your gut reactions 😉

  • thomas hmmmm

    Exactly… That missed call killed the momentum of what was looking like good drive. The entire offense was looking at the refs like “Where’s the flag?” I think even Ben was talking and telling the refs about it once it happened.

  • Patrick Gelesh

    No problem sir, sorry you missed it, there was a pretty “spirited” convo going on haha… I just didn’t want you to think I wasn’t doing my job. Hopefully you’ll check out my next article it’s about the lesson learned in week 6, I’d love to hear your input!