DOLPHINS RUNNING BACK JAY AJAYI VS. STEELERS DEFENSE
Who won: Steelers.
The impact: One of the primary goals of Pittsburgh’s defense was to stop Ajayi, who ran for 204 yards and two touchdowns in the first game against the Steelers on Oct. 16. Pittsburgh achieved that goal from the outset. Ajayi found little room to run throughout the game and finished with only 33 yards on 16 carries and without a touchdown. The Dolphins were held to 52 rushing yards overall. To add to the Dolphins’ misery, Ajayi left the game with 8:23 remaining in the fourth quarter after he reaggravated the same shoulder he injured in Miami’s 34-31 win over Buffalo two weeks ago.
STEELERS WIDE RECEIVER ANTONIO BROWN VS. DOLPHINS SECONDARY
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Who won: Brown.
The impact: Brown, a Miami native, wasn’t much of a factor when he first faced his hometown team this season. That changed in the first eight-plus minutes Sunday, as Brown delivered two quick daggers on touchdown catches of 50 and 62 yards to give the Steelers all the points they would need. Brown easily outran the flat-footed Dolphins’ secondary down the sideline on the first score after catching a quick screen pass from Ben Roethlisberger. On his second touchdown, Brown beat Tony Lippett on a slant and raced away from Bacarri Rambo to the end zone. Overall, Brown caught five passes for 124 yards.
STEELERS RUNNING GAME VS. DOLPHINS FRONT SEVEN
Who won: Steelers.
The impact: Le’Veon Bell found space in the Dolphins defense from the start and carried the ball 29 times for a Steelers’ playoff-record 167 yards and two touchdowns. Bell helped the Steelers establish the passing game, too, as Ben Roethlisberger connected on his first 12 throws, including a pair of touchdown tosses to Antonio Brown on their first two possessions. The Dolphins failed to put any significant pressure on Roethlisberger, unlike their first encounter in which Miami not only harassed Pittsburgh’s quarterback but even injured him in a 30-15 victory. Roethlisberger was sacked only once and wasn’t hurt by his two interceptions.