GAME BALL goes to: DE Cameron Heyward
It is no stretch to say that Heyward and outside linebacker Jason Worilds have become the most dominant and disruptive players on the defense. Heyward's rapid ascent was on display against the Dolphins when he had a team-high 10 tackles, including one for loss, a sack and a batted pass. Heyward has four sacks in the past six games and leads the team with 24 QB hurries. "We just didn't get the stops when we needed them," Heyward said. "It's a team defense and we just didn't get the job done."
THE COUNTDOWN A quick look at the top performances from Sunday's game:
1. Clay's play: The Steelers had trouble locating tight end Charles Clay all game, including on his first touchdown when he was wide open on a 6-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill. But he wasn't wide open on the winning 12-yard touchdown because cornerback Cortez Allen and safety Troy Polamalu appeared to have him wrapped up at the 7. Clay, though, broke free and scored to make it 31-28 with 2:53 remaining. "I got to make that tackle," Allen said. "There's no magic to it. There's no excuse."
2. Dandy Daniel: The Steelers allowed their fourth run of 50 yards or longer when Miami's Daniel Thomas ran 55 yards to the Steelers 16, setting up the Dolphins' winning touchdown. "We thought they would try to beat us deep and he just split it," safety Ryan Clark said.
3. Quick response: After the Steelers needed six plays to score 14 points, the Dolphins answered with a seven-play, 71-yard drive that ended when a replay challenge reversed a call to give Brian Hartline a 4-yard touchdown catch and a 24-21 lead.
4. Fine No. 9: The Steelers did a good job of answering Miami touchdowns, especially when they went 78 yards in 11 plays to take a 28-24 lead on a 16-yard pass to Jerricho Cotchery, his team-high ninth touchdown of the season.
5. Costly penalty: An illegal receiver downfield penalty against guard Ramon Foster erased a 12-yard pass to Cotchery on second-and-14. Three plays later, the Steelers punted and the Dolphins went 80 yards in four plays for the winning touchdown.
"I knew mine wasn't [a forward pass]. The referee came up to me and said, 'Just so you know, everything is going to have to be reviewed, every single part of it.' That's one of those plays that you would have liked to have to let it go and then let replay overturn it. But [the official] obviously saw something and blew it dead."
-- Ben Roethlisberger, on the final play that included five laterals, including his to Antonio Brown
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
11 That's the number of scrimmage plays of 50 yards or longer allowed by the Steelers in 13 games, most in the league. A 55-yard run by RB Daniel Thomas to the Steelers 16 set up the Dolphins' winning touchdown -- a 12-yard pass to TE Charles Clay -- with 2:53 remaining.
WHAT WAS HE THINKING?
Facing fourth-and-10 at his 10-yard line with 2:33 remaining, trailing 31-28, coach Mike Tomlin decided against punting and elected to go for the first down. Never mind that he had two timeouts and the two-minute warning remaining to stop the clock. Tomlin didn't trust his defense. The decision backfired when Roethlisberger scrambled for only 8 yards, turning the ball over to the Dolphins, who subsequently kicked a 27-yard field goal. "We hadn't done a great job of stopping them in the second half, so we weren't ensured of getting the ball back," Tomlin said.
X's AND O's
After the Dolphins took the second-half kickoff and went 80 yards in nine plays to take a 17-7 lead, the Steelers needed only six plays to quickly reverse the momentum and take a 21-17 lead. Antonio Brown scored on a 43-yard catch-and-run to cap a four-play, 83-yard drive and Troy Polamalu returned an interception 19 yards for a touchdown just two plays later to change the complexion of the game -- or so it appeared. "We felt really good at that point," receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "The momentum was definitely on our side at that point. We felt really good about closing the game out."
The Steelers (5-8) play the Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) on Dec. 15 at Heinz Field. The Steelers have lost two in a row to the Bengals, including 20-10 in Week 2, and are 2-2 against them in the past four home games.