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.