Time to put the final nail in the coffin of the 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers season.
When will the blood bath begin? It's hard to imagine how many people are going to lose their jobs after this debacle of a season. Fans will be calling for everyone's heads. Though the Steelers were, without a question, plagued by multiple injuries, there's no doubt that this is a season that we all can't wait to move on from. Our livers can only take so freakin' much.
And come on! It's the Miami Dolphins! Playing in the freezing cold and snow! Nope, the Steelers still got schooled in every way possible, losing at home, losing the lead, losing their shot at any chance of a postseason. Perhaps it's for the best, as the Steelers wouldn't have gotten far, but the next few games are certainly not going to mean nearly as much as they could have had the Steelers won on Sunday.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger couldn't put together any kind of last-minute miracle run even though he had every opportunity to take the lead back. Though there were some crazy laterals (perhaps a forward pass by Ben?) (doesn't really matter) and a long run by Antonio Brown that looked like he scored a touchdown at the very end of the game in what would have been the most insane play ever to win the game, he ran out of bounds at the 11-yard line even when he didn't have to. And that pretty much sums up the futility of this entire season.
It did look pretty good during the second half, but Ben got the ball back twice with less than four minutes left and couldn't do anything with it. The defense allowed tight end Charles Clay and running back Daniel Thomas to pretty much run all over them. Thomas rushed for 105 yards on 16 carries, and Clay had 7 catches for 97 yards. Both Troy Polamalu and Cortez Allen weren't able to bring down Clay, even with their arms wrapped around the dude's waist, on the Dolphins' final touchdown.
It was the most points the Dolphins scored all season. It was also the Dolphins' first win in Pittsburgh in 23 years. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was finally able to score a fourth quarter offensive touchdown with said reception by Clay. That was set up by a 55-yard run by Thomas. It's all sad all around.
And the Steelers actually started off pretty strong. They capped a 12-play, 74-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders. Roethlisberger, with that play, passed Terry Bradshaw for first place all time on the Steelers passing TD list (213).
But later in the half, Cameron Wake sacked Big Ben and caused a fumble. Tannehill was able to make the Steelers pay with a six-yard TD pass. One of the most exciting plays came thanks to, not surprisingly, Troy Polamalu. He caught a 52-yard field goal attempt in the end zone. He was able to run all the way to the 30-yard line and threw it back to nose tackle Steve McLendon. McLendon then was able to flip the ball to Ike Taylor, who went all the way to the 40-yard line before the play ended. I do think that Polamalu would make a fantastic kick returner. He's good at everything. Maybe with the next few games, which are essentially meaningless, the Steelers can mix things up a bit and try to get away from their losing formula. AKA play Polamalu in every single position just to see what happens.
Anyway, the excitement was short-lived. Opening the second half, Tannehill & Co. marched 80 yards down the field, extending their lead to 17-7. The last half was pretty wild though, as the two teams exchanged the lead four times in the last 23 minutes.
On the next drive, Roethlisberger threw a TD pass to Antonio Brown, which cut the Dolphins' lead to 17-10. It was looking better and better when Polamalu intercepted Tannehill and was able to run it back 19 yards for yet another brilliant, hair-flying TD. Sadly, not shockingly, the Steelers weren't able to maintain the lead. Tannehill was able to compose himself and throw a beautiful 4-yard pass to Brian Hartline, who was able to drag both his feet in the endzone before going out of bounds. Five minutes later, the Steelers scored an answering TD, thanks to a Roethlisberger-Cotchery 16-yard pass.
Then Tannehill connected with Clay with 2:53 left for that final TD pass in the final quarter, and the Steelers, even though they got the ball back, ended up losing the game and losing any chance for a postseason run. Tannehill completed 20 of 33 passes for 201 yards and 3 TDs and 1 INT.
Ben ended his day completing 17 passes in 25 attempts for 235 yards and 3 TDs. Le'Veon Bell, who thankfully seems to have fully recuperated from his scary concussion last week against the Baltimore Ravens, had a productive game, running 13 times for 58 yards. Antonio Brown caught 4 passes for 77 yards, while ex-Steeler Mike Wallace had just 2 catches for 19 yards. Still, he got the win, so ...
This may sound borderline blasphemous, but now that the Steelers lost, I felt an extreme ... kind of relief. They've been so bad all season, they most certainly didn't deserve to win this game, let alone get to the postseason. Now 5-8, they're all but out, but perhaps that means they can focus on the (many) things that are fundamentally wrong and take some major steps to fix them. Though of course there were moments of brilliance, as there have been all season, nothing they could do was enough to win this "must-win" contest.
Who do you think will be the first to go? Todd Haley? Is it the end of Dick LeBeau? Would they even consider firing Tomlin, especially in light of what happened last week against the Ravens? How much better would the team even be with an in-tact offensive line? It's decisions for those making the big bucks to figure out, but still, Steelers fans are probably not going to be happy unless they see A LOT of changes during the off-season.
Let's put this season in our pipes and smoke it. Of course the Steelers can't win every single game, nor can they get to the postseason every single year. But now that they have lost eight games in what has been a borderline horrific year, it's time to focus on how to shake this one off and face a lot of hard decisions during the long off-season ahead. Now all we have to do is wait and see.
Though I guess you also have to be grateful you're not a Cleveland Browns fan. What a heartbreaker!!
Now I do believe it's time for another drink. Until next week, when the Steelers take on the Cincinnati Bengals and ... oh, whatever, it doesn't matter anymore, does it?