The 1-4 Miami Dolphins posed little threat to Pittsburgh Steelers in week 6 of the NFL season. A 30-15 loss sent the Steelers home dejected and started a season altering resurgence in Miami. The Steelers learned an important lesson that day; never underestimate an NFL opponent. It won’t happen again as Miami heads to Pittsburgh for its first playoff appearance in 8 seasons.
The Steelers enter the post-season healthier than ever, while Miami limps in without its starting QB, center, both safeties, a cornerback, two linebackers and a TE. With nearly half of the Dolphins starting lineup watching from the sidelines, a miracle in Pittsburgh seems highly unlikely. Losing in week 6 to these Miami Dolphins only adds fuel to the Steeler fire.
Steeler fans are already lining up after game party favorites in expectation of a blowout victory. The ten point spread in Las Vegas is viewed as an easy bet for the Pittsburgh faithful. The weather is certain to be cold and blustery in Western Pennsylvania. Having the good fortune of playing the hapless Browns in week 17, the Steelers rested their stars in anticipation of the massacre.
In Miami, rookie coach Adam Gase and his patchwork Dolphins can only simmer watching the media bashing their right to be here at all. Miami is clearly on the wrong side of the NFL attrition game. The injury list grew until the next man up, like Bacarri Rambo, are players not even on an NFL roster when the season began…
The silence in Miami fandom is deafening. Where other post season fans have dreams of Super Bowl sugarplums, Miami fans hope the battered team will at least put up a gallant fight. It makes no sense to play the fool with false bravado and unrealistic expectations. In some circles, the playoff run is considered a hindrance to the future in terms of draft status. These circumstances echo the sentiment surrounding Miami in week 6 when another losing season loomed.
Perhaps week 6 was an anomaly, but 200+ Jay Ajayi rushing yards were not, as the feat was duplicated twice more during the season. The game plan should be simple, run the ball, control the clock and keep the defense off the field. When the defense is on the field, harass Ben Roethlisberger and do not miss tackles. Saying Miami has no chance is too much pessimism, yet the only folks truly believing in the Dolphins are smoldering players and coaches in the Miami locker room.
Even a crushing defeat will not blemish the luster of Adam Gase’s rookie season. It could be said, the Dolphins have little to lose, but this mentality is completely unacceptable to Adam Gase. He understands football is a game of emotion as much as skill. Going into a game lacking the emotion required to win undermines everything he has fought to change in Miami.
The Steelers waltzed into Miami week 6 thinking "easy win" and went home with their tail between their legs. Miami going into Pittsburgh thinking "acceptable loss" is not the mentality of a team looking to rise from the NFL ashes. Ask Tony Sparano how quickly fortunes can change from one season to the next. Making the playoffs is nice, hooray team, Gigggity Gigggity, but this is the beginning, not the end. Adam Gase will not make a career off a single playoff appearance and none of these players are going to the Hall-Of-Fame if losing is acceptable.
Stand tall Miami Dolphin fans! The Dolphins are not going to Pittsburgh expecting to lose. This is not a throw away game even if there are plenty of excuses. Adam Gase coached players understand, excuses are the justification of losers. Winners find a way to pull victory from the jaws of defeat and it starts long before the opening kickoff. It starts by staring down the mental obstacles challenging that inner desire to succeed.
Losing is not acceptable… Inevitably it will happen, but as the coach, losing is a unique opportunity to witness a player’s desire to succeed. When all the cards are stacked against you, winners rise. The Dolphins will show up in Pittsburgh, not with the mentality they have nothing to lose, but knowing…
Losers will not last long with Adam Gase in Miami...
Losing is not acceptable.