Miami Dolphins

Grading the game: Dolphins at Steelers

 

asalguero@miamiherald.com

Quarterback

AYes, he missed the deep shot to Mike Wallace (again) and he threw the Pick Six to Troy Polamalu when the safety read his eyes. But … Tannehill answered that interception with a touchdown drive. He threw three touchdown passes. He made plays with his arm and his feet — including a 48-yard run. And the Dolphins offense four touchdowns was a season high. Not bad considering Tannehill never played in snow before. GRADE: A-minus.

Receivers/tight ends

BBrian Hartline didn’t know whether he was in bounds, but he knew both feet were down so when the official told him his catch in the end zone wasn’t a TD based on having both down, Hartline knew he had a score. Charles Clay accounted for Miami’s other two touchdown catches and had five others for a total of 97 yards. His 40-yard gain was dynamic. Mike Wallace was limited to two catches for 19 yards and Rishard Matthews had only one catch for five yards. GRADE: B.

Running backs

ALamar Miller went out of the game in the third quarter with a concussion so the Dolphins had no choice but to give Daniel Thomas the rock the rest of the way. He answered with his second-best game of his career, a 105-yard game that belied the fact two weeks ago he was in a boot with an ankle injury. By the way, Tannehill had a 48-yard run. Have we mentioned that? He needs to keep on the read option more often. GRADE: A.

Offensive line

BThe Dolphins did yield three sacks and a couple of those came in key second half situations. But Tannehill was generally afforded plenty of time to throw and the Dolphins rushed for 181 yards, which averaged out to 7.5 yards per carry. It is clear the coaching staff thinks rookie Sam Brenner worthy of playing time because he shared time with Nate Garner at guard. GRADE: B.

Defensive line

BPaul Soliai set the tone with a sack up the middle in the first quarter and had a batted pass later in the game. Olivier Vernon continues his sack attack, getting one this game after collecting three last week. Cameron Wake also had a big fourth-quarter sack. The Steelers averaged 4.0 yards per rush but much of that was on second effort and bouncing runs wide when the middle was clogged. GRADE: B.

Linebackers:

CPhillip Wheeler is stringing together good games and this was another in that string. He led the unit with seven tackles and had a pass defensed. He also had a quarterback hurry on a blitz. Dannell Ellerbe has been less dynamic but a tad more consistent than Wheeler this year, and while Sunday was not an exclamation point, he was OK with his gap assignments. Because the Steelers played much of the game with three receivers, Koa Misi watched most of the game from the sideline because he was not part of the Miami nickel package. GRADE: C-plus.

Secondary

BNolan Carroll and Brent Grimes both made plays on passes that dislodged potential completions from receivers’ grasp. Chris Clemons led the team in tackles with 12. He lost the angle on Antonio Brown on the last play, but he’s been nursing hamstring and knee injuries this season. The Dolphins secondary did nothing spectacular and gave up 349 passing yards, but they spent most of the first half trying not to fall in the snow and played better in the second half when the weather improved. GRADE: B-minus.

Special teams:

CMarcus Thigpen can definitely catch a punt as he’s falling. It was an interesting sight. The Miami return game was otherwise unimpressive. Jimmy Wilson had a deflection on a punt that went only one yard and Caleb Sturgis connected on his two makeable field goal attempts. He missed on a 52-yarder but the chances of anyone making that in the falling snow and swirling wind were low. GRADE: C-minus.

Coaching:

BJoe Philbin made a questionable decision to kick the 52-yard field goal rather than punt, but the mistake was erased when Steelers coach Mike Tomlin opted to have a run-out play instead of taking the football at his 41 with 21 seconds to play. That time and field position was exactly the amount Carolina used to get in field goal range two weeks ago. GRADE: B.

Overall

ADolphins have won two in a row for the first time since September. GRADE: A.

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