The Dolphins fell to the Steelers in part due to massive injuries .
In their first playoff game since being under head coach Tony Sparano, the Dolphins returned to the NFL Playoffs under new head coach Adam Gase, the current youngest head coach in NFL. I guess it was only appropriate that Gase would lose to Mike Tomlin, the youngest coach to make an NFL Playoff appearance and the youngest to win a Super Bowl.
The Dolphins entered the game with injuries headlining the roster coming into this game. Miami came into the game with the confirmed sidelining of starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill as he continued to recover from a leg/ankle injury. Among their other notable injured players, the Dolphins were without 3-time Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, safeties Byron Maxwell and Isa Abdul-Quddus, and starting linebacker Koa Misi.
Antonio Brown had an explosive performance as he opened the game with back-to-back receiving touchdowns for the Steelers. Things didn’t get much better for the Dolphins as Matt Moore suffered a controversial late hit to the jaw in the 2nd quarter from Steelers LB Bud Dupree; Moore remained down for a few moments after the play. It was ruled “roughing the passer” and Matt Moore amazingly came back into the game after just 1 play. The play will likely be reviewed by NFL Player Safety to see if Dupree could be fined. Predictable categories of hit classification could be “Late Hit” or “Impermissable use of the Helmet (Helmet-to-Helmet Hit).” Jay Ajayi also suffered a shoulder injury in the 4th quarter and was originally ruled a questionable return, but did not return for another play.
Le’Veon Bell made his postseason debut for the Steelers and continued where he left off in the regular season with 174 all-purpose yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. Antonio Brown finished the game with 5 receptions, 124 yards yards, and 2 touchdowns to lead the Steelers to a 30-12 victory over Miami.
The Steelers were able to hold down Miami’s running game from what it did to them during Week 6 of this season when RB Jay Ajayi made his breakout performance. Today, the Steelers held the London-born rusher to just over 2 yards per carry on 16 rushes. Jarvis Landry was the top offensive performer for the Dolphins with 11 receptions for 102 yards. Despite the loss, Matt Moore went 29/36 for 289 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 pick.
Although the Dolphins lost, they will likely end their season with an AP Comeback Player of the Year Award just like they did in the 2008 season. In 2008, then-quarterback Chad Pennington won the award for the second time in his career. This year, Dolphins veteran DE Cameron Wake is a likely candidate to win the award after only playing in 7 games last year before being carted off the field in a game against the Patriots. This season, Wake came back with 29 combined tackles, 5 forced fumbles, and also tallied his first career interception.