My kingdom for one stop
Both Troy Polamalu and Cortez Allen had a chance to take down Miami's massive H-back Charles Clay. Allen had struggled to a degree with him in previous plays. Both seemed to go for the ball, and didn't wrap him up. In that play, we saw two things: 1. The value of sure-tackling cornerbacks, and 2. the loss of a rangy second inside linebacker. Polamalu made a huge play in coverage, returning an interception for a touchdown on a great play, and made a great read of another pick he could have returned early in the game. Polamalu isn't a linebacker, and the fact he's been playing one over the last several games seems to be wearing on him.
All they needed was one stop late in the game. Instead, they watched an injured power running back go 40 yards, dropping the Steelers' chances of winning that game down to nil.
Remembering James Farrior
The Steelers signed linebacker James Farrior to a free agent contract after the 2001 season. It can, has and will be argued he was the best free agent signing in franchise history. Farrior would eventually be named All Pro twice and was a captain on two Steelers' Super Bowl championship teams.
Let's not view the only solutions to the replenishing of this roster coming in the draft. The team needs to draft well, certainly, but they need players who can play now. It's silly to ask rookies like Jarvis Jones and Vince Williams to step in and play significant snaps over the course of the year. They aren't developed, they aren't well-versed in the defense, and they're clear and obvious liabilities. Jones was abused in the Dolphins running game, and considering the way Jason Worilds has played, and how explosive LaMarr Woodley looked (even with some rust), the only thing keeping Jones on the field is doing is hurting his confidence.
He needs a computer, tape of every game played in the NFL by every outside linebacker and offensive tackle, access to a weight room and tons of food. Go Clockwork Orange on his rookie butt.
Along with that, the defense needs solid veterans to play on both sides of the ball next year. Signing this free agency class's equivalent to Farrior would be nice.
It was hard selecting Winners and Losers for this game. Antonio Brown was taken, but an argument could have been made for Jerricho Cotchery. Polamalu made a huge play, but was burned a few times. Allen had some nice coverage on Mike Wallace, but struggled in the short game. Cody Wallace and Mike Adams did some good things and generally performed well, considering their competition, but Wallace allowed a sack and was penalized twice. Adams surrendered pressure, probably at the same level as Ramon Foster and Marcus Gilbert. It was a collective loss, and would have been a collective win.
What would possess an aging quarterback to barely think twice about tucking the ball and running on 4th and 10, game on the line, deep in his own territory? Without the benefit of the full camera angle, my guess is he had nothing down the field, and tried to force in two other passes, both of which were dropped. What does that say? Roethlisberger, the quarterback who's injuries derailed the Steelers' last two seasons in the final leg of the year, feels his best option, on a snowy, slow field, was to chug his way 16 yards in an effort to save his team's season.
To his credit, he came a yard short (and Wallace's block in the back was comically powerful, at least he was fighting). But it speaks to the need of another weapon in the passing game. Miami's secondary played very well, one of the better units the Steelers have seen this year, but someone's gotta be able to get open.
Horrible Week 15
The Steelers will host the Bengals in Week 15 in primetime. The Steelers are likely to be eliminated from the postseason before kickoff - a win by Baltimore or Miami would seal it - meaning they have nothing but staving off the franchise's first losing season since 2003 for which to play. The Bengals, on the other hand, might be in a position to clinch the AFC North. The Steelers face the possibility of clinching that losing season while officially being eliminated from the postseason the earliest it has been probably since 2003, as well as getting to watch the Bengals celebrate their first AFC North championship since 2009.
Week 15 kind of sucks.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Dolphins vs. Steelers Postgame News and Updates
- Monday Takeaways: Steelers lose to Dolphins in Week 14
- Dolphins vs. Steelers final score: Miami all but ends Pittsburgh's season in 34-28 win
- Winners and Losers from Steelers Week 14 loss to Miami
- NFL draft order: Steelers set to select 10th after Week 14 loss
- You stay classy, Adrian Peterson, Ravens fans