Dolphins struggled to run in the cold
1/9/2017 8:33:00 PM
Miami was bounced from the playoffs by Pittsburgh, 30-12, in an AFC wildcard game at Heinz Field played in bone-chilling conditions.
The wind chill at kickoff was two degrees, but that didn't slow the Steelers' dazzling offensive trio of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (two touchdown passes), running back Le'Veon Bell (franchise playoff record 167 yards rushing) and wide receiver Antonio Brown (50-yard touchdown, 62-yard touchdown, 124 yards receiving).
Meanwhile, Miami running back Jay Ajayi (16 carries, 33 yards) was stopped almost every time he touched the ball, totaling just 45 yards from scrimmage. Quarterback Matt Moore (one touchdown, one interception, 97.8 passer rating) was sacked five times, and the wide receiver trio of Jarvis Landry (11 receptions, 102 yards), Kenny Stills (five receptions, 82 yards) and DeVante Parker (four receptions, 55 yards) didn't produce a touchdown.
And the Dolphins committed three costly turnovers -- two fumbles and an interception -- in their first playoff appearance since 2008.
"They were able to run the ball, we couldn't," coach Adam Gase said. "It was opposite of what we wanted to do. We turned the ball over and we knew we couldn't do that. Those were two really critical factors that we had to make sure we won, and we didn't do it."
Pittsburgh jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead when Roethlisberger hit Brown on touchdown passes of 50 and 62 yards, and the Steelers had no problems after that point.
Pittsburgh's first three scoring drives went 85, 90 and 83 yards as it built a 20-6 halftime lead.
Miami was simply overwhelmed.
Still, it was a good season. The Dolphins, under first-year coach Adam Gase, enjoyed a 10-win campaign and made their first playoff appearance since 2008.
So while there was great disappointment in losing in the wildcard round of the playoffs, there was a sense of pride and optimism in the locker room on Monday when players cleaned out their lockers.
"I'm sick about the game," wide receiver Kenny Stills said, "but I still understand where we've come (from). I told the guys before the game, 'Look how far we've come.' It's something that you can be proud of, but it's not something to hang your hat on.
"We know what we expect out of each other, and we know the potential of this group. We've got to come back stronger next year and do it again."