Sunday, December 8, 2013

Football a game of inches, Dolphins thankful for it


It's often said that football is a game of inches.

It's a saying that proved literal for the Miami Dolphins Sunday, as they came away with a wild 34-28 victory after the host Pittsburgh Steelers narrowly missed a miraculous game-winning touchdown on the final play.

Out of last-second desperation, the Steelers ran the very rarely successful lateral play that, after a multiple backwards passes, put the ball in the hands of receiver Antonio Brown with an angle to the endzone. Brown streaked down the sideline for an apparent touchdown, but the edge of his foot touched out of bounds near the 12-yard line.

After the game, the Dolphins felt a combination of exhilaration and relief.

"I think I need some blood pressure medicine or something," defensive end Cameron Wake joked after the game, via the team's website.

Added quarterback Ryan Tannehill, "It seemed surreal for a second. I did see him step out. I was standing right there on the sideline. Thank goodness for that one inch."

Despite a heavy first-half snowfall and poor field conditions, Miami put up its highest scoring total of the season and saw its offense put together one of its most complete performances of the year. The Dolphins were able to win a December shootout on the road and earned a critical victory as the team pushes for a playoff spot, even if it required a little last-minute luck to preserve.

"Sometimes it's good to be lucky," cornerback Brent Grimes added.

Tannehill overcame a crushing third quarter interception that was returned for a go-ahead Steelers touchdown to lead a game-winning drive in the fourth, scoring the first offensive touchdown Miami's recorded in the final stanza since Week 5.

His most reliable target on the afternoon was tight end Charles Clay, who continued his breakout season by catching two of the quarterback's three touchdown passes. Tailback Daniel Thomas, who was a surprise active after suffering an ankle injury two weeks ago, added 105 yards and a touchdown on the ground. A career-high 55-yard run keyed a fourth quarter scoring drive.

In the end, the Dolphins were just happy to get the win.

"Last week to this week, we have the mentality where we're just going to go out there and have to win the day," Wake added. "Whatever happens out there will happen. But what we can control is what we do when we go out on that field."

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