Dolphins-Steelers: What we learned

Ron Musselman, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- The Miami Dolphins showed their all-weather capability Sunday at Heinz Field, where Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins took down the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-28.
Tannehill tossed three touchdown passes, including his second to tight end Charles Clay with 2:53 remaining, leading Miami's rally to keep alive their AFC playoff hopes. The Dolphins return home to prepare for the 10-3 New England Patriots this week.
"Definitely a big win for us," running back Daniel Thomas said. "We have a do-or-die mentality and we need to keep doing that next week."
Tannehill marched the Dolphins' 80 yards in four plays on the winning drive, highlighted by Thomas' 55-yard run.
Miami (7-6) added a 27-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis with 1:08 remaining and snapped a five-game losing streak against Pittsburgh with its second consecutive victory.
The Steelers (5-8) suffered their second loss in a row and will miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Wide receiver Antonio Brown came within 13 yards of scoring a touchdown as time expired. He was ruled out of bounds to end the game on what was nearly a six-lateral miracle ending for the Steelers.
"Football is a game of inches," said Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who was involved in the final play. "It just happened. It isn't like we drew it up or nothing. I thought it was a touchdown all the way. That would have been one of greatest plays ever if it had been allowed.
"That was a special play, but then to see all the commotion, it definitely was heartbreaking. You definitely think you won the game and then you lose it, because they can't review it."
Tannehill completed 20 of 33 passes for 200 yards. In addition to his three touchdown passes, he also was intercepted once. Thomas finished with 105 yards rushing on 16 carries and a touchdown.
Roethlisberger, who completed 23 of 39 for 274 yards, tossed three touchdown passes for the Steelers and eclipsed Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw's franchise record for most in the regular season.
Strong safety Troy Polamalu also returned an interception 19 yards for a touchdown for the Steelers.
"I thought (Tannehill) played well," Miami coach Joe Philbin said. "Obviously, we can't give up the pick-six. I don't think it was all his fault. I thought he showed good presence in the pocket. I thought he threw the ball accurately."

What the Steelers said
"I am not going to answer that question. We are just going to give it everything we have. There isn't going to be any quit from anybody." -- QB Ben Roethlisberger, asked about enduring the first back-to-back, non-winning seasons in his 10-year career.

What the Dolphins said
"It was a good drive. We had about four minutes left. We knew what the situation was. We need to go down and score a touchdown. ... (Running back) Daniel (Thomas) breaks a long run, and it really changed the whole dynamic of the game. So that was a huge play, and we followed it up with a short completion to (tight end Charles) Clay. He breaks two tackles and gets in the end zone." -- QB Ryan Tannehill, on the game-winning drive.

What we learned about the Steelers
1. The Steelers more than likely will miss postseason play for the second consecutive year. The last time that occurred was a during a three-year stretch from 1998-2000.
2. Wide receiver Antonio Brown is impressively replacing the departed Mike Wallace, who was on the opposite sideline, as the team's No. 1 receiver. Brown made five catches for 137 yards and one touchdown. He is just the second receiver in team history to have 90 receptions in a season, joining Hines Ward.

What we learned about the Dolphins
1. Ryan Tannehill could be on his way to joining Dan Marino as the only quarterbacks in team history to pass for 4,000 yards in a season. Tannehill, who threw three touchdown passes Sunday, is at 3,315 yards with three games remaining. He needs to average just 228 yards per game in the final three contests to reach the milestone.
2. Tight end Charles Clay finished with a team-high seven catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns Sunday. He joined Randy McMichael and Keith Jackson as the only Miami tight ends with 600 receiving yards in a season. Clay is having a career year, with 60 receptions for 678 yards and six touchdowns.

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