Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown made their first playoff appearance as a trio on Sunday afternoon, and they didn’t disappoint as they tore apart the Miami Dolphins.
They rolled into the postseason on a 7-game winning streak and they used their momentum to secure them a divisional playoff game next Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Steelers looked unstoppable from start to finish, while becoming simply too much for the Dolphins’ defence to handle.
Their weapons were on full display, as they broke records left and right. Perhaps their biggest accomplishment came as a franchise, when they edged themselves past the Dallas Cowboys for the most wins in NFL playoff history with 35.
The Steelers have emulated success like few franchises in sports, and this year they look ready to capitalize on one of their most talented bunches in history. Their potential was on display once again in their Wild Card game, as Big Ben used Bell and Brown to be able obliterate the Dolphins in a 30-12 win.
Right out of the gate, the Steelers imposed their will on the Dolphins. In their first possession of the game, they would help Brown record his first touchdown of his postseason career, while also helping him get his first TD while using a screen. With 12:26 left in the 1st quarter on a 1st & 10, Brown would catch a short-throw from Big Ben just before the 50-yard line, before waiting patiently for a screen from Jesse James, that ultimately gave him a pathway for a touchdown.
Brown would give the Steelers an eventual 7-0 lead, but he wasn’t done. A couple of possessions later, Big Ben would continue targeting Brown, allowing his Pro Bowl receiver to expose a weak Dolphins’ secondary. At their own 38-yard line, Roethlisberger would throw a bullet to Brown, who would immediately shake off Tony Lippett, before bolting through the middle of the field to juke Bacarri Rambo for his 2nd TD of the game.
In just 8 minutes of action, Brown had already completed a 50-yard and a 62-yard touchdown, while giving the Steelers an early 14-0 lead. His pair of stunning plays, would also make Roethlisberger the first quarterback to ever throw 2 TD passes of at least 50 yards in the first quarter of a playoff game.
Brown finished the game with an eventual 124 yards, 2 TDs, on only 5 catches, while the Steelers quickly turned their attention to perhaps the MVP of their regular season. Bell had emerged once again at the right time for the Steelers, propelling them through their 7-game winning-streak after losing 4 in a row. In that process he set a regular season franchise record with 236 rushing yards against the Bills, while also becoming the first player in NFL history to average at 100 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards in a season.
On Sunday against the Dolphins, Bell would continue engraving his name in the Steelers’ record books, on his way to an incredible 167 yards on 29 carries. Big Ben and coach Mike Tomlin would torture the Dolphins with Bell, especially to start the 2nd quarter. They went to Bell for 9 straight rushes, leading to an 83-yard drive, capped off by Bell’s first touchdown in his first ever postseason game.
Bell would storm through the Dolphins’ coverage, blowing past tackles on his way to a 26-yard run that would originally be ruled a touchdown. When it was overturned, giving the Steelers the ball at the 1-yard line, they would find Bell a couple of possessions later for him to run the ball in and propel the Steelers to a 20-3 lead.
Both teams would exchange field goals, until Bell put the final dagger in the Dolphins’ postseason hopes at the end of the 3rd quarter. With the Steelers at the Dolphins’ 8-yard line facing a 3rd & 5, they put the ball back into Bell’s hands. The Pro Bowl running back wouldn’t disappoint, running in his 2nd touchdown of the game, while also setting a franchise record in rushing yards, and finishing the day with a total of 174 yards thanks to his pair of receptions.
Perhaps the only problem with the Steelers’ offence was the fact that Roethlisberger threw for 2 interceptions to go along with his 2 touchdowns and 197 yards on 13-18 pass attempts. They didn’t halt their momentum, instead the Steelers’ defence also came up clutch to help make up for their QB’s mistakes. Throughout the 2nd and 3rd quarter, they forced the Dolphins and QB Matt Moore into 3-straight turnovers, with a pair of fumbles and also an interception. It helped take off some pressure off Big Ben who suffered a late-game ankle injury, but should be fine for next Sunday.
With a roaring Heinz Field behind them, the Steelers took care of business behind their 3 biggest weapons in Big Ben, Bell and Brown. Going up against a Dolphins’ defence that ranked 4th last in the league was supposed to be an easy test for the Steelers, especially with them entering the postseason on such a high-note. Now, they’ll have to prepare for the best team in the AFC West, the Kansas City Chiefs, as they look to cause the same amount damage, but now as the away team in Arrowhead Stadium next Sunday.
The Steelers have proven that once they get rolling, there is little anyone can do to stop them. They can put up points in a hurry, with a 2-time Super Bowl-winning QB in Roethlisberger leading the way. They’ll be going up against a pair of Pro Bowlers in the Chiefs’ defence in Marcus Peters and Eric Berry, but at this point no one is officially safe against a Steelers’ offence that can explode at any moment.
All stats for this article are from NFL.com
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