Steelers crumble late, fall to Dolphins 34-28


PITTSBURGH — It was a play symbolic of a lost season, filled with hope and despair and all the
things in between.In the end, though, Antonio Brown’s frantic dash to the end zone after a five-lateral
comedy of errors turned out to be nothing more than a stat-padding exercise in chaos.When officials
ruled Brown stepped out of bounds at the Miami 12 after time expired to assure the Dolphins of a 34-28
victory, any realistic hopes the Steelers (5-8) had of reaching the playoffs vanished.Now, nothing but a
long December and perhaps an even longer offseason awaits.“We’ve still got jobs,” Pittsburgh cornerback
Ike Taylor said. “We’ve still got games to play. We’ve got no time to be whining, pouting, thinking
about the season, talking about the playoffs.”Now, there’s no point. Not after Pittsburgh allowed Miami
(7-6) to feel right at home at snowy Heinz Field.The Dolphins’ 34 points were a season high as they
rolled up 360 yards total offense, including 80 on a four-play fourth-quarter drive that ended with
Charles Clay running through a pair of arm tackles by Troy Polamalu and Cortez Allen for a 12-yard score
that gave the Dolphins the lead for good with 2:53 remaining.“I was trying to get the ball out,”
Polamalu said. “I’ve just got to make the tackle.”Caleb Sturgis tacked on a field goal to push Miami’s
lead to six, but the Steelers had one last shot when they took over at their 20 with 1:08 left.Three
plays went nowhere and on fourth-and-4 from the Pittsburgh 26, things got crazy.Emmanuel Sanders caught
the pass and made it 20 yards before running into trouble. Sanders flipped it to Jerricho Cotchery, who
handed it to Le’Veon Bell, who then tossed it to 330-pound tackle Marcus Gilbert. Gilbert gave it to
Roethlisberger, who ran to the Pittsburgh 33 before throwing what appeared to be an illegal forward pass
to Brown. No flags were thrown, however, as Brown raced down the sideline.As the Dolphins gave chase,
Brown crossed the goal line. While he celebrated, an official pointed at the turf and ruled Brown’s left
foot stepped out of bounds at the Miami 12. That sent the resurgent Dolphins spilling onto the field
after the franchise’s first win in Pittsburgh in 23 years, one that came in the unlikeliest of
settings.“I thought I had it clean,” Brown said. “I thought I separated really good getting to the
sideline, but it didn’t seem quite enough.”Roethlisberger passed for 349 yards and three scores, but the
Steelers (5-8) lost their second straight game to assure the franchise of consecutive non-winning
seasons for the first time this decade.“It definitely (stinks) man,” Sanders said. “ What do you guys
want me to say? I’m going to stop playing football? No.”Daniel Thomas ran for 105 yards and a score for
Miami. His zig-zag 55-yard burst at snowy Heinz Field set up Clay’s winner. Ryan Tannehill completed 20
of 33 passes for 201 yards and three scores for the Dolphins. Miami blew a 10-point third-quarter lead
but rallied to win for the third time in its last four games.“I think I need some blood pressure
medicine or something,” Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake said. “That’s December football.”The
defeated capped a distracting 10 days for the Steelers. Head coach Mike Tomlin was fined $100,000 for
interfering with Baltimore kickoff returner Jacoby Jones during a loss to Baltimore on Thanksgiving
night. The kind of furor overshadowed the fact what little margin for error the Steelers had heading
into the final month was gone.Now it’s vanished completely along with the hopes of climbing out of an
0-4 start, a deficit safety Ryan Clark said the team could have pulled itself out of with better
play.“If these (last) two weeks go different, if we beat Oakland,” he said. “We can point to a lot of
situations where if we make plays in certain games 0-4 wasn’t insurmountable.”NOTES: Miami WR Mike
Wallace had two catches for 19 yards in his return to Pittsburgh, where he played from 2009-12. …
Miami RB Lamar Miller left in the third quarter with a concussion and did not return. …
Roethlisberger’s first-quarter touchdown pass to Sanders gave him 213 in his career, breaking a tie with
Terry Bradshaw for the most in team history … Polamalu returned an interception 19 yards for a score
in the third quarter, the fifth touchdown of his career. … Brown became the second Steeler to reach 90
receptions in a season. Hines Ward did it four times.

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