Miami Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Live Grades and Analysis for Miami

Thomas GaliciaContributor IIDecember 8, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 08: Charles Clay #42 of the Miami Dolphins scores a second quarter touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 8, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins (7-6) defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8) by the final score of 34-28 on Sunday in a wild game at Heinz Field. 

The Dolphins are still tied with the Baltimore Ravens (7-6) for the final playoff spot in the AFC, while the Steelers are all but eliminated from the postseason. 

Here's a look at Miami's performance in this much-needed victory, their first in Pittsburgh since 1990. 


Miami Dolphins Game Grades
Position UnitFirst Half GradesGame Grades
Pass OffenseCB
Run OffenseDB+
Run DefenseDC-
Pass DefenseBF
Special TeamsAB+
Week 14 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers


Game Analysis for the Miami Dolphins

Pass Offense: Ryan Tannehill had his bad moments this afternoon, with his pick-six to Troy Polumalu and a few bad passes in the snow. But in the end, Tannehill had his big boy pants on, and with the help of Daniel Thomas and Charles Clay, he earned the kill.

Run Offense: Who knew that Thomas had this in him? His 56-yard run that set up Clay’s touchdown was my play of the game, and his overall play as Miami’s No. 1 running back is part of the reason why the Dolphins were so successful on offense.

Run Defense: Miami’s run defense was by no means great, if anything it was mediocre, and the numbers are only as low as they are because the Steelers practically abandoned the run.  

Pass Defense:  This was going to be an "F" regardless of the final play, as the Dolphins pass defense couldn’t contain Pittsburgh’s receivers until the very end.

Special Teams: I’d say overall they had a pretty decent game, but nothing too spectacular.

Coaching: Some bad play calls early, but the Dolphins coaches shined late as they put the Dolphins’ players in the best position to succeed.

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 08: Lamar Miller #26 of the Miami Dolphins fights for more yards as Will Allen #20 of the Pittsburgh Steelers wraps him up and teammate Troy Polamalu #43 moves in to help during the second quarter at Heinz Field on December 8, 20
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

First-Half Analysis for the Miami Dolphins

Pass Offense: It didn’t look very good at first, with Ryan Tannehill underthrowing and overthrowing receivers on the first two drives, but if Dolphins keep the passes short and rely on the play-action, Tannehill will be fine.  

Run Offense: This is a game where the Dolphins run offense needs to step up because of the conditions. Unfortunately, save for two good runs by Ryan Tannehill and a couple of decent rushes by Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas, they haven’t done that.

Run Defense:  Le’Veon Bell is having his way with the Dolphins run defense, getting past the defensive line and making the linebackers miss their tackles. I’ve seen more corners make tackles on run plays than linebackers in this half, and that's not a good thing.

Pass Defense: I could nitpick the pass defense over some first quarter plays where the receivers were wide open but dropped passes, but the pass defense only improved as the game went on. 

Special Teams: A few blocked punts and no major mistakes are worth an A to me. I can't blame Sturgis for missing that field goal. It was stupid to go for it considering the history of kicking field goals into that end, as well as the fact that it was 4th-and-2 (Miami should have gone for it). 

Coaching: They’ve actually done a good job as a whole when it comes to play calls and schemes. Mike Sherman has had the right idea in this half with his play-callling, and was masterful in Miami’s touchdown drive following the Roethlisberger fumble.  

So here's the question: How long until they start to mess this up like they have in other games this season? Actually, it started at the end of the half with the maddening decision to not call a timeout when the Steelers were attempting to draw the Dolphins offside and the decision to go for a 52-yard field goal.