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Steelers-Dolphins wrapup...

October 24, 2010 - Ray Eckenrode

The headline:


Steelers survive in South Beach after controversial replay ruling

It was over when:

Rookie linebacker Jason Worilds, pressed into duty after an injury to LaMarr Woodley, forced Chad Henne into a bad fourth-down throw with a little more than a minute left.

Play of the day:

Although Ben Roethlisberger’s controversial QB draw/fumble/replay ruling was obviously the key play of the game, his 53-yard scoring pass to Mike Wallace was a thing of beauty, with Dolphins corner Jason Allen unable to catch Wallace despite a 10-yard cushion and jogging start.

Hot topics:

+ We’re sure Mike Tomlin will deny it, but it sure looked like a lot of Steelers were timid when tackling, especially Ryan Clark, choosing to go low on Dolphins’ receivers and missing a ton of tackles in the process.

+ The loss of Aaron Smith to a torn triceps will be a brutal one for the Steelers’ defense. Pittsburgh’s ability to stuff the run is based on Smith’s ability to handle two gaps at the line of scrimmage, even if he's double teamed. We’d think Dick Lebeau will have to consider more run blitzing, which in turn will cut down on the Steelers pass blitzing.

+ We don’t think it’s a coincidence the Steelers rushing game went to hell after the Flozell Adams injury. The much-maligned lineman had actually been ultra effective so far this year as a run blocker (and not terrible as a pass blocker).

And now a word from our sponsors:

The NFL Play 60 commercial with the Falcons (including owner Arthur Blank) on the bus is fantastic.

Paralysis by analysis:

Just as with Miami newspapers, ill-prepared CBS crew failed to mention it was Steelers’ third road game in black jerseys in 85-degree-plus temperatures this season.

Zebra hunting:

Obviously, white hat Gene Steratore, who lives in Pittsburgh, was the central figure in the game with his two-pronged replay ruling, which the Dolphins won, but lost. The question we have on the second half of the ruling is whether rules specify that there must be visual evidence of a clean “initial” recovery rather than an “eventual” recovery. If that, in fact, is the rule (or how Steratore interpreted it), then Doug Legursky should get a game ball for Pittsburgh because his belly flop into the middle of the pile was the only thing that prevented a clean Dolphins recovery.

Sweet tweets:

@CdrEck: Dan Dierdorf “not wanting to belabor a point.” Huh? Isn’t that what he does best?

@DanielTosh: So many Steelers fans in Miami, but who can blame them no one wants to live in Pittsburgh. (Blogger’s note: Tosh, a comedian, outsmarts most sports commentators by realizing that those Steelers fans don’t travel to those away games, they live there.)

@DougKeklak: Good thing Miami forced the Steelers to wear the black jerseys, it sure slowed down Mike Wallace there.

@15MinutesBlog: Let Henne be Vinny!

We were (almost) right:

The Steelers badly mismanaged a scoring opportunity in the final minutes of the first half that we were certain was going to lead to a two-point loss (we tweeted that at the time) and, sure enough, it nearly did. Already in field goal range, they lost yardage when they botched an always-risky reverse. Then, Ben Roethlisberger took a silly sack. Then, Coach Mike Tomlin failed to call timeout with :01 left to allow Jeff Reed to try a 55-yard field goal with a 20 mph wind at his back.

We were wrong:

We thought the illegal-hit controversy of the past week would serve to steel Pittsburgh’s resolve. Instead, they came out unfocused on offense and got into a hole they nearly couldn’t get out of.

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