The chatter circulating Miami prior to the Dolphins dramatic victory in Pittsburgh was calling for the jobs of Joe Philbin and Jeff Ireland. Writers from the local rags and here on Dolphinshout did an abrupt U-Turn after the exciting win placed Miami squarely in the playoff hunt. The Miami Dolphins enter the final three games of the season needing one more victory than the Baltimore Ravens to clinch a wildcard berth.
The heat on the Dolphin brass was cooled by scoring a fourth quarter offensive TD for the first time in eight games and breaking the 27 point barrier for the first time all season. Fashionably, the game came down to a last-second desperation lateral-fest by the Steelers, which came an inch from succeeding before the victory was secured. There was no warming up the weather in Pittsburgh, where the game opened in a driving snowstorm and the conditions remained frigid throughout the day.
Led by a two TD performance from Charles Clay, a highlight reel catch by Brian Hartline and perhaps the best day as a Dolphin by Daniel Thomas, Miami weathered the storm. Clay continued his breakout season by throwing off two tacklers on the way to a game clinching TD and 97 yards receiving. Not even the referees could believe Hartline’s sideline circus catch for a TD until it was verified by instant replay. When Lamar Miller went down with a 1st half concussion, Thomas stepped up in a big way and ran for 105 yards including a 55 yard scamper and a score.
Ryan Tannehill showed maturity in a 3 TD - 1 INT performance, including a 48 yard dash on a seldom used read option play. When Troy Polamalu intercepted an errant throw and gave Pittsburgh the lead with a diving TD leap, it looked like the pick six would KO the Dolphins, but Tannehill was unfazed and calmly led the team to victory.
The Dolphin defense had an uneven day allowing 21 points, but remained stout after a 3rd quarter letdown and enabled a 34 to 28 Miami victory. After allowing only 1 TD by a wide receiver all season, the Dolphin secondary gave up 3 in Pittsburgh. The snowy conditions attributed to much of the secondary issues as the DBs had trouble maintaining footing on the slippery turf.
In all it was an impressive win for the Dolphins and kept their season alive. For Miami fans unused to being relevant in December, it was reason to smile. Through the bullying allegations and bumpy start, Joe Philbin has maintained the locker room and likely secured his job. Calls for Jeff Ireland’s job will continue to subside with each Miami victory.
The Dolphins arrived home to beautiful sunny conditions after weeks of weathering the storm. With New England coming to town, the Dolphins have an opportunity to silence their critics and prove they are a team looking forward to a bright future.