Steelers game plan vs. Dolphins is to get yards after the catch

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders isn't afraid to simply state the obvious; Miami's pass rush is nasty, and to protect their quarterback, they will need a short passing game. And the receivers will need to take it from there.

The Steelers will trot out to the line of scrimmage arguably their shallowest offensive line over the last two years when they host the Dolphins Sunday.

That says a lot, considering their offensive line has had more mutations than the flu virus over the last two seasons.

It's a banged-up unit, as it usually is, but it doesn't always face the challenge created by the defensive line of the Dolphins. Defensive ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon are outstanding pass rushers, and defensive tackles Jared Odrick and Randy Starks could be the best pair of interior defensive linemen in the NFL this season.

Simply put, the Dolphins' advantages up front when the Steelers have the ball are so clearly tilted in their favor, the Steelers' only chance to have success offensively is to keep the ball as far away from them as possible.

"Cameron Wake makes a lot of plays, so they are going to get to Ben," Emmanuel Sanders said, as quoted by Ralph N. Paulk of the Tribune-Review. "The game plan is get yards after the catch when he gets the ball out on (short routes), but we still have to take our shots down the field."

Will they be able to? Cody Wallace, a player who's yet to start a game in his NFL career, stands between Odrick and Starks and the franchise's most prized possession. Add in what's supposed to be a snowy, blustery day in Pittsburgh, deep passing doesn't seem like a strategy as much as a red herring.

"They are hard to block to be honest with you," guard Ramon Foster told Paulk. "Their record doesn't reflect how good the defensive line has played."

Honest, if not glib. But seemingly not confident in their ability to stop them up front. A short passing game may be the key Sunday.

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