Dolphins vs. Steelers: Fade to Black
Miami lost starting quarterback Chad Henne for the game when he was poked in the eye, which is appropriate because, throughout the season, this offense sometimes resembled a Three Stooges episode. And then there was Pat White's scary helmet-to-helmet collision with Steelers corner Ike Taylor. White was knocked out for a while and was on the ground for a full eight minutes before showing movement in his arms and legs and being carted off the field.
So the Dolphins turned to third-string quarterback Tyler Thigpen. And that's when shit got funky. Thigpen came in and led the Dolphins, down 27-10, to two touchdown-scoring drives, including a 33-yard strike to Davone Bess. For a guy who had been relegated to the scout team for pretty much his entire time with Miami this season, Thigpen brought a crapload of excitement (he was also able to silence -- at least for a little while -- the throng of transplanted Yinzers in attendance, which was a nice bonus).
But as the old adage goes, live by the Thigpen, die by the Thigpen*. Just as much as he was responsible for Miami's improbable comeback, the Dolphins' third-stringer was also at the helm of their ultimate demise. With momentum at their backs, the Dolphin defense recovered a Ben Roethlisberger fumble at the Miami 13. With the crowd in a frenzy and the Fins with an excellent chance to take the lead or tie the game, Thigpen threw the mother of all ill-advised passes right into the teeth of Steelers double-coverage. Pittsburgh's Ryan Clark intercepted the pass at the two-yard-line and consequently ended all hopes of a miracle comeback. The Steelers would go on to win 30-24.
It seemed only yesterday the Dolphins were on the verge of earning a playoff spot, possibly even winning the division. There was talk of this team making some noise in the playoffs, talk of how this was a team no one wanted to face in the postseason.
Today, not so much. The Dolphins ended the season just as they began it -- losing three straight games. The result: a 7-9 record and the 12th pick in April's NFL Draft. It was pretty much what the experts expected to happen to the Dolphins this season. It's a young team with plenty of holes yet to fill, playing in a tough division and up against the toughest schedule in the league. They are what they said they are. Still doesn't take away the huge piles of suck of yet another disappointing end.
*Not an actual adage.