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

Dan Snyder@@dsnyder34Correspondent IDecember 8, 2013

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 28: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 28, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Ravens won, 22-20. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers' playoff hopes may have just been dashed with a loss to the Miami Dolphins, 34-28. Ben Roethlisberger continued to play well, but the defense and run game failed the Steelers in the closing quarters.

The Steelers now stand at 5-8 with a very, very slim chance of making the playoffs.         


Dolphins: 34

Steelers: 28

Pittsburgh Steelers Game Grades
Positional Unit1st Half GradeFinal Grade
Pass OffenseCB
Run OffenseB-C
Run DefenseB+C-
Pass DefenseB+C+
Special TeamsC-C
vs. Dolphins, Week 14

Final Analysis for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Pass Offense: As the weather got better, Roethlisberger continued to look good for the Steelers. He threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns on the afternoon, but it wasn’t enough for the Steelers.

The receivers missed several passes and the line fell apart late, but Roethlisberger continues to look like a Pro Bowl player in Pittsburgh. More run calls in the second half might have helped the passing game, but hindsight is 20/20.

Run Offense: Abandonment is the name of the game when it comes to the Steelers second-half ground attack. Le’Veon Bell, who ran so well in the first half, barely touched the ball in the second.

As a team, Pittsburgh ran for just 83 yards, but averaged four yards per carry. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s play-calling was terrible and the Steelers couldn’t run out the clock.

Run Defense: The Steelers second-half run defense would make any self-respecting fan want to vomit immediately. Daniel Thomas absolutely shredded Pittsburgh in the second half to the tune of 14 carries, 105 yards and a score.

As a team, Miami punished Pittsburgh for 173 yards. More woeful for the Steelers was the 7.5 yards per carry average they permitted. The second half was a disaster for the Pittsburgh defense and may have, effectively, ended their season.

Pass Defense: The Steelers did a good job of limiting the Dolphins receivers in the first half, but that certainly wasn’t the case in the second. Ryan Tannehill threw for only 201 yards on the game, but connected on three touchdown strikes, two to Charles Clay.

Pittsburgh didn’t get beat deep in the first half, but Clay got them in the second. Everything else was underneath, and the Steelers had no answer. Their run game didn’t help much and aside from a Troy Polamalu touchdown, they didn’t do much.

Special Teams: There's not a whole lot to say about the Steelers special teams unit in this one. They gave up a big blocked punt in the first half and really didn’t do a whole lot afterward.

Coaching: The play-calling in the second half continued to be a disaster. Pittsburgh abandoned the run in the closing quarters once again and were unable to hold on to a lead over a team who hadn’t scored a fourth quarter point in eight weeks.

Defensively, it was just as bad. Miami moved the ball at will against the Steelers through the air and on the ground. It was an awful second half for Pittsburgh.

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 08: Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates his interception and  touchdown in the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Heinz Field on December 8, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images


First-Half Analysis for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Pass Offense: The elements have played their part in the Steelers passing game today against the Dolphins. Roethlisberger has been efficient, but it hasn’t really amounted to anything on the stat sheet or the scoreboard.

Roethlisberger has thrown for just 82 yards in the first half while completing nine of his 13 attempts and spreading the ball to five different receivers. The snow isn’t making matters easier, but Pittsburgh has struggled to convert third downs again. They’ll have to find a way to pass the ball more effectively in the second half.

Run Offense: Bell is quickly emerging as one of the most valuable weapons the Steelers offense has. Through the first half, he has 40 yards on the ground and 54 in total.

The Steelers line blocked very well to start the game, but has given some ground recently. As a team, Pittsburgh has 55 yards on 15 carries through two quarters. In conditions like this, it’s imperative that they find a ground game.

Run Defense: If it weren’t for the legs of Tannehill, this would have been a fantastic half by the Steelers run defense. They’ve held the Dolphins running backs to just 20 yards on seven carries.

Unfortunately, Tannehill has racked up 56 yards by himself including a 48-yard gain that set up Miami's first score. The Steelers have really done their job so far, but they’ll have to keep a closer eye on the Dolphins quarterback.

Pass Defense: Pittsburgh has done a very nice job of covering the Dolphins receivers through one half. Tannehill has completed barely 50 percent of his 15 passes for a meager 53 yards. However, he did find Clay for a touchdown.

The Steelers haven’t been beaten deep, but the elements may have had a say in that. Everything has been forced underneath and there’s good pressure on Tannehill. The Steelers need to keep it up.

Special Teams: It had been a very promising day for the Steelers special teams until Miami blocked a punt just before the half. It didn’t come back to hurt Pittsburgh, but it was still an ugly play.

Coaching: I despise the way the Steelers call their plays. On a 3rd-and-3, they throw deep. On a 3rd-and-8, they throw short. It doesn’t make any sense. There’s no diversity and nothing ever sets up anything else.

Defensively, the game plan is there and it's being executed. They just need to force a turnover or get something going on offense.


Follow on Twitter: @dsynder34


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