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Steelers secure win after controversial ruling

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The Steelers used a big passing day from Ben Roethlisberger, solid defense and a fortuitous call on a video review late in the game to beat the Dolphins 23-22 in Miami. Defensive end Aaron Smith, linebacker Lamar Woodley and offensive tackle Flozell Adams all left the game with injuries.

Steelers 23 – Dolphins 22

Pittsburgh snuck out a win in Miami with a big assist from a very fortuitious video replay decision that allowed the Steelers to retain possession after Ben Roethlisberger fumbled in the end with zone with just over 2:00 remaining. The bizarre decision allowed Jeff Reed to kick a short field goal and put the Steelers ahead 23-22. Aside from the late video controversy, the Steelers were able win by holding the Dolphins offense to mainly field goals instead of touchdowns. The win also came with a steep price as Aaron Smith, LaMarr Woodley and Flozell Adams all left the game with injuries and did not return.

GAME FLOW

Two mistakes put Pittsburgh into a hole early, as fumbles by Emmanuel Sanders and Ben Roethlisberger gave Miami two free field goals. Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense managed to sneak into the redzone early in the second quarter, but were forced to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Jeff Reed. The defense decided to give them another shot three plays later though, as James Farrior came up with a fumble giving the ball back to the offense. Roethlisberger capitalized on the short field, hitting Hines Ward and letting him power his way into the endzone for a 21-yard touchdown and a 10-6 Pittsburgh lead. Miami tried to respond and pushed the ball into the redzone, only to come away with yet another short field goal. From there, Roethlisberger only needed one play to find the endzone again, hitting Mike Wallace deep for a 57-yard touchdown pass and a 17-9 lead. Miami finally finished a drive the next time out with QB Chad Henne hitting WR Davone Bess for a 26-yard score, leaving the Dolphins down 17-16 at halftime.

The second half began with each team trying to match the other. Both teams tacked on field goals to their score, followed by both teams suffering a three-and-out. Miami eventually kicked a fifth field goal for a 22-20 lead with five minutes remaining. Pittsburgh’s offense drove to Miami’s two-yard line, where Roethlisberbger snuck in for an apparent touchdown before fumbling in the endzone. After further review, it was ruled that he lost the ball before he crossed the plane. However, since officials never ruled on which team recovered the football, and there was no clear evidence during the video review. The Steelers were granted possession of the ball and took a 23-22 lead with a 19-yard field goal by Jeff Reed. Miami failed to pick up a first down on the next drive and was out of timeouts, which allowed Pittsburgh’s offense to kneel its way to victory.

OFFENSE

On the ground: Pittsburgh struggled to move the ball on the ground all afternoon. Rashard Mendenhall received 15 carries but only came up with 37 yards. Mewelde Moore had a chance at some touches as well, taking 4 carries for a total of 11 yards. Isaac Redman added 3 rushes for 9 yards and failed to convert on his only short-yardage attempt.

Through the air: Ben Roethlisberger was streaky for most of the day, but did complete 19 of his 27 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns. However, he fumbled three times on the day, losing one. Hines Ward was his quarterback's favorite target, catching seven passes for 131 yards and a TD. Mike Wallace added another TD on one of his two grabs. RB Mewelde Moore contributed four receptions for 48 yards.

DEFENSE

The big story, other than the controversial ruling and the Steelers' losses of Smith and Woodley, was Pittsburgh’s redzone defense. Miami entered the redzone three times and came away with three field goals. Miami’s RB tandem of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combined for just 64 yards on the ground. Pittsburgh forced a turnover on a forced fumble by CB Bryant McFadden and recovered by LB James Farrior. Larry Foote registered the team’s only sack. McFadden led the team with six total tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Jeff Reed hit three field goals, including the 19-yard game winner. Daniel Sepulveda only attempted three punts, but averaged 48.3 yards per punt with one downed inside the 20-yard line. Emmanuel Sanders served as the team’s kick returner and struggled early, losing a fumble on the opening kickoff. However, he redeemed himself with a 47-yard return on the team’s game-winning drive.

GAME BALL

Whenever the offense needed a clutch play, Hines Ward stepped up. Ward finished with 131 yards on seven catches, including a 21-yard touchdown that saw him juke and spin his way into the endzone.

INJURY REPORT

Woodley injured his hamstring, Adams his left ankle, and Smith his left arm. Tomlin told reporters after the game that Smith tore the triceps in his left arm. He is likely out for the year.

NEXT UP

Pittsburgh travels to New Orleans on Halloween to take on the suddenly-vulnerable defending champs. New Orleans was pushed around in a 30-17 loss against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. It will be Pittsburgh’s first primetime game this season as they take the fight to the Saints on NBC for an 8:20 PM kickoff.

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