Dolphins Needed To Get ‘Moore’ Out Of Quarterback Position

The Pittsburgh Steelers know that they got quite a bit of a break when it comes to playing a Miami Dolphins team that was missing about a third or so of the players who started the previous game between the two teams. The most significant absence was quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who suffered an ACL injury late in the season.

While his backup, Matt Moore, filled in admirably in his absence, winning two of the final three games of the season and throwing eight touchdowns to three interceptions in that span, the Dolphins yesterday against the Steelers defense, to put it simply—and please pardon the pun—needed more from the position.

It is certainly not as though he played all bad, to be clear. He did complete 29 of his 36 pass attempts for a completion percentage of better than 80. That was the highest completion percentage in a playoff loss in the Super Bowl era, and it was on no small number of pass attempts.

He also threw for 289 yards, averaging just a bit over eight yards per pass attempt. And he did throw for one touchdown pass. This was on a day on which the Dolphins could not get anything done on the ground, with Jay Ajayi limited to only 33 rushing yards on 16 carries.

But Moore took five sacks, two of which resulted in fumbles, forced by James Harrison and Mike Mitchell, and recovered by Stephon Tuitt and L.T. Walton, respectively. And on the first offensive play for the Dolphins after that second lost fumble, the 32-year-old quarterback threw an interception that set the Steelers up at the 25-yard line.

The clear difference between this game and the three previous games is that the Dolphins’ offensive line did a much better job of protecting Moore—as did the running game—as he was only sacked once on 88 dropbacks during his play in the regular season.

The Steelers dropped him five times, and forced him to turn the ball over three times in a span of just nine plays. And they were highly costly turnovers that produced a minimum of a 13-point swing, as the Steelers got a touchdown and a pair of field goals off of those turnovers.

That first turnover, produced by the Harrison sack, also came on first and goal, meaning that the Dolphins were well within scoring position, so that cost the road team even more points, in all likelihood. A backup quarterback, at a bare minimum, can’t cost you the game, and turning the ball over three times is not the way to avoid that.

The Steelers won’t be playing a backup quarterback next week in Kansas City, however. As badly as the Steelers wanted a redo against the Dolphins, Alex Smith and the Chiefs are no doubt eager to avenge their 43-14 loss from earlier in the season at Heinz Field. Matt Moore couldn’t give the Dolphins enough yesterday, but Pittsburgh’s next opponent will be a much taller task.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • VaDave

    I think Moore is a decent 2nd banana, maybe the best # 2 in the league. But we jumped on them early, the game was over, their game plan was shot bits. I am certain the Dolphins had no intentions in the game planning to have Moore pass that often. Shutting down their run game was key, and that mission was accomplished. And before we get too puffy about this victory, think back a bit whenever we’ve not been able to run the ball, and what happens to Ben. Actually, I feel for the kid. Man, he got slobberknockered several times and still hung in there ’til the end.

  • stan

    I was impressed with Moore. The difference between he and Tannehilll is much smaller than between Ben and Landry.

  • Zib Hammad

    Alex Smith is a backup quarterback masquerading as a starter. He has conservative instincts, avoiding the risky throws in favor of ball control. It also means avoiding the high-risk, high-reward situations that can result in big plays when things go your way. Some times you just need to take your shot, and Alex would rather take the sack or throw the ball away or dump it off for a 3 yard game. That’s why the 49ers dumped him, not that things have turned out well for them since then. Not going to win the big games with Alex Smith.

  • Orlysteel

    He had 8 touchdown passes to one interception going into the game when your running game doesn’t get going it gets very difficult, not a big drop off from Tannehill.

  • dennisdoubleday

    Tyreek Hill is scary. I think we can stop Ware, just like Ajayi. But Kelce is an 800 lb gorilla targeted at the main Steelers defensive weakness. If you can contain him to some extent, you go a long way to containing the KC passing game.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Thinking of Timmons covering Kielce downfield is scary.