Steelers Report Card: Game 16 vs. Dolphins
Gerry Dulac grades the Steelers' in their 30-24 victory against the Dolphins
Monday, January 04, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Ben Roethlisberger threw for only 70 of his 220 yards in the second half, but he led two long scoring drives and finished with three touchdown passes. He made only one mistake -- fumbling on a sack at his 13 -- but Ryan Clark's interception two plays later ended that threat. Roethlisberger had three passes of 26 yards or longer in the first half, when he threw for 150 yards.
Running Backs A
Rashard Mendenhall had 60 of his 94 yards in the second half, including a long run of 36 yards to the Miami 6 that set up a touchdown, making it 24-10. He also caught a 26-yard screen pass to the Miami 6 to set up a field goal in the second quarter. But it was Willie Parker who had 74 of his 91 yards on the final drive when he did a much better job of hitting holes and grinding out yards.
Wide receivers B+
Mike Wallace continues to make big plays, catching a 54-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Hines Ward, playing with tender hamstrings, had three of his game-high eight catches on the final 83-yard drive. Heath Miller had a 37-yard catch-and-run to set up a score and made a nice play on a 3-yard TD catch. Santonio Holmes had only one catch, but it was for 5 yards and a score.
Offensive line B
The Steelers rushed for a season-high 202 yards on 36 carries, an average of 5.6 yards per attempt, with 150 coming in the second half. Give the line credit for clearing room for Parker and allowing the Steelers to climb out from their 2 on the final field-goal drive. Roethlisberger was sacked three times, giving him a career-high 50 for the season.
Defensive Line C+
The Dolphins rushed for 47 of their 99 yards in the first half, but 16 came from Ricky Williams on the first offensive play. Williams was held to 31 yards on 12 carries. The only other long run was a 16-yard TD on a reverse by receiver Brian Hartline -- not bad when you consider the Steelers were without their starting defensive ends. Also, QB Pat White had 27 yards on five runs from the pocket.
LaMarr Woodley had two more sacks in the first half, giving him 11 1/2 in the past eight games, and also forced a lateral pass for a 9-yard loss. But he let RB Lex Hilliard beat him to the pylon on an 11-yard TD in the first quarter. Lawrence Timmons had a sack and seven tackles, including two for losses. James Farrior got beat on a short pass to TE Anthony Fasano for 27 yards to set up a score.
Defensive Backs B-
Chad Henne had 140 yards and a touchdown in the first half and third-team QB Tyler Thigpen made several big throws to almost rally the Dolphins, including a 34-yard TD toss over Deshea Townsend. But Townsend had the first interception by a cornerback this season and Ike Taylor added another to close the game. Ryan Clark's pick at the Steelers' 2 with 6:56 remaining was the biggest.
Special Teams A
Stefan Logan had kickoff returns of 30 and 39 yards in the first half to help set up scores and also added punt returns of 19 and 22 yards in the second half. Jeff Reed kicked three more field goals to extend his streak to 22 in a row from inside the 50. He also did a good job mixing his kickoffs to keep the ball away from Ted Ginn Jr., who averaged just 15.5 yards on four returns.
Give Mike Tomlin credit for keeping the Steelers from collapsing after the loss in Cleveland and winning their final three games. They were prepared to play against the Dolphins, and it showed when they jumped to a big lead. And, just when it looked like they would revert to their old ways in the fourth quarter, the defense made the necessary plays with interceptions to end the game.
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