I used a picture above from one of the happier moments of the Dolphins game because that's how I always want to remember Troy Polamalu. Just those moments of pure inerta, in that nothing on this planet has a chance at stopping you from the finish line. Tory was no doubt punishing himself over not being able to take the missed Dolphins FG the entire way earlier, but clearly silenced the mental anguish with one of his best returns. Only his pain likely returned with the exceptional winning TD by Charles Clay.
In the end, it's another game that seemed impossible for Steelers defenses past. 28 points would guarantee wins against teams that averaged low-teens against Pittsburgh. Only now the marked improvement of guys like Cam Heyward and Jason Worilds is routinely overshadowed by the ultimate failings as a group. And with the margin of error being slim to none, yet another letdown game buries the Steelers.
Ben: Ben played a great game, yet the Steelers lost so I gotta hijack Ben's spot here to lay a substantial bit of the blame on the offense lest it just seem like I solely blame the 30+ point allowing defense. After a TD pass to Jerricho Cotchery to open the fourth quarter, the Dolphins and Steelers each blew two straight possessions and ended with punts. If the offense continues like it had, either of those two Steelers possessions MUST end in a touchdown. At such a critical moment, the gameplan went pass-happy, letting incompletions stop the clock. And zero points on either prevented what might've been a two-score ballgame. So while Ben's stats look great (23 of 39 for 349 and 3TDs), those fourth quarter drives failing is the result of the entire offensive approach, but must also fall on Ben, hence the paragraph-jacking that just happened. 3 of 5 motorcycle helmets.
Le'Veon: This is mostly just a note that Le'Veon Bell played, after nearly being decapitated last week. He had his moments, too, accounting for 61 yards on the ground and 28 in the air. Only Bell and the running game disappeared in the biggest spot. Over the final four possessions following the Cotchery TD, with the Steelers either leading or within a score of Miami, Bell was targeted with six passes versus only two rushing attempts. Four of those passes fell incomplete. The semi-effective run game became the "huck it to Le'Veon" game, and that didn't work out so well. 2.5 of 5 helmets.
Defense: Back to the defense blaming, in its appropriate spot. While the offense was playing pattycake with the Dolphins as they flip-flopped punts early in the fourth, it was going to come down to either defense making a silly mistake to swing momentum. So the Steelers let Miami RB Daniel Thomas run 55 yards to the Pittsburgh 16 yard line. And even though the defense came up with a huge Renegade-inspired third down stop earlier in the quarter, all became moot by letting Daniel Thomas scamper to near-glory. It's almost fitting, just a long bomb to show the team that the season is nearly done. No need to deny it any more. In future Steelers defenses, the young guys will mature fast enough to mask any of the injuries or general lack of cohesiveness that has doomed them this year. 1.5 of 5 motorcycle helmets. And that's tough when Troy, Cam, Jason and a few others played special games. It stinks that it wasn't enough to generate squad success.
WRs: Say what you will about these guys, but a TD each by Antonio Brown, Manny Sanders and Cotchery, the latter establishing a career high with nine. Only they, too disappeared after Cotch's TD game the Steelers a lead. Confounding. I appreciate the TDs but with the current state of the defense, more is obviously needed. 3 of 5 motorcycle helmets.
Bengals night game this coming Sunday. I'll still be here regardless.