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Miami Dolphins

Rapid Recap: Steelers flatten Dolphins in Wildcard Weekend win

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire

The chances of the Dolphins losing defensive architect Vance Joseph to a head coaching job with the 49ers, Chargers or Broncos might have grown a little longer on Sunday afternoon.

Joseph went into the Dolphins wild card game against the Steelers as one of the game’s hot young coordinators, one who had garnered attention from at least three of the teams looking for a new head coach.

Like the weather in Pittsburgh, though, the once-growing interest in Joseph probably cooled off a bit after his defense struggled to keep the Steelers in check during a 30-12 loss.

The Dolphins had little or no answer for either quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who set a career high by completing each of his first 11 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns, or running back Le’Veon Bell.

While Roethlisberger went on to complete 13 of 18 passes for 197 yards and those two touchdowns, Bell set a Steelers playoff rushing record by running 29 times for 167 yards and two scores.

The Dolphins didn’t even officially hit Roethlisberger until midway through the third quarter, when a sack on third-and-goal from the Miami 7 forced Pittsburgh to settle for a 34-yard Chris Boswell field goal.

By then the game was already well in Pittsburgh’s hands, largely because of a poor start by the Dolphins defense, which allowed the Steelers to score on each of their first three possessions.

Big plays proved to be the Dolphins undoing. Roethlisberger connected with Antonio Brown on touchdown passes of 50 and 62 yards for the first two scores and Bell set up the third with a 26-yard run.

The Dolphins hinted at a comeback, tightening the score on an Andrew Franks field goal and they were in position to tighten it again late in the first half when disaster struck.

During a nine-play swing for the Dolphins, the Steelers forced three takeaways, two on sacks fumbles of quarterback Matt Moore and the third on a Moore interception.

The Steelers turned those three takeaways into 10 points, which wasn’t bad when you consider that touchdown came after an offside penalty by Miami’s kick block unit gave Pittsburgh new life.

That spoke to the resiliency of the Dolphins defense, which has grown stronger as the season has progressed, but when it mattered most Sunday the unit simply wasn’t up to the task of slowing the Steelers.

As for the Dolphins offense, it struggled as well, particularly in the run game where Jay Ajayi was limited to just 33 yards on 16 carries, his worst outing since gaining just 33 yards against Cincinnati in Week four.

Moore’s outing, meanwhile, will almost surely be defined by his three giveaways, but he gave the Dolphins a chance, completing 29 of his 36 passes for 289 yards and a touchdown.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins being investigated for hiding severity of Tannehill shoulder injury

Florida Football Insiders

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

For the most part everyone already understands that the NFL’s injury report that is loosely utilized to judge whether players can play or not. For three or more decades, teams have done their best to hide the significance of important injuries from everyone, including their opponents, while listing whatever they can get away with on the injury report.

And now, the Miami Dolphins are about to be the latest team to be scrutinized for what they did report about QB Ryan Tannehill injured shoulder a week ago.

As Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald wrote on Wednesday afternoon, the league is investigating the Dolphins for having listed Ryan Tannehill as having fully participated in practice on Wednesday and Thursday of last week. But then, listed him as limited for Friday and questionable for the game:

Specifically at issue, according to Salguero is that Tannehill was apparently unable to throw passes for most or all of Thursday’s practice while being listed as a full participant.

Further, he did not participate at all in the Friday workout, which should have led to the Fins labeling him as “doubtful,” because they knew the extent of the injury and that he couldn’t throw.

We now know that Tannehill suffered a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder in the fourth quarter meltdown loss to the Cincinnati Bengals the week before . and really had no possibility of playing in the Chicago game as the week went on.

That’s another point of contention for the investigation, because Miami coach Adam Gase never said any of that prior to the game. However, he admitted as such after the game Sunday (Tannehill couldn’t throw/was doubtful all weekend), and repeated it on Monday, as well.

And more confirmation that the shoulder has been injured so bad is: Tannehill was still unable to practice on Wednesday and the Dolphins have already ruled him out for Sunday’s game at home with the Lions.

The Fins announced that backup Brock Osweiler will start for the second consecutive week. Osweiler threw for 380 yards, three touchdowns and led the game winning field goal drive in the final minute of overtime against Chicago.

The league does have consequences for teams not being forthcoming, especially hiding significance of injuries with the most prominent players on their roster and their injury statuses.

They have reprimanded and fined teams, like the Patriots for an example, for not being forthcoming about injuries. Coach Bill Belichick responded one year by listing 25 players on his injury report one week for an upcoming game.

Most likely, the Dolphins will get a fine, if it can be proven that they were purposely misleading everyone, including the Bears when they knew the severity of Tannehill’s injury earlier last week.

And clearly they were, and did.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins WR Albert Wilson named AFC Offensive Player of the Week

Florida Football Insiders

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins knew that wide receiver Albert Wilson had big play potential, and now, that he has delivered early in 2018, others are seeing that potential realized too.

Wilson was recognized on Wednesday as the AFC Offensive Player-of-the-Week coming off of his two touchdown 155 yards receiving performance in the Miami thrilling when 31 – 28 over the Bears in overtime Sunday:

Wilson has become known for his ability to gain yards after the catch, and his spectacular 75-yard weaving catch-and-run to the endzone tie the game late in regulation.

His big receiving day was part of Brock Osweiler filling in for injured quarterback Ryan Tannehill on short notice to throw for over 380 yards in the victory.

The Dolphins were hopeful that the additions of Wilson, Danny Amendola and drafting tight end Mike Gesicki from Penn State would provide offensive spark. So far, Amendola and Gesicki have not given much in the way of productivity.

Now, it looks like snagging Albert Wilson off Kansas City’s roster in free agency last March was the right move by VP of football Mike Tannenbaum, GM Chris Grier and coach Adam Gase.

Sunday was Wilson’s first 100 yard receiving game in the Aqua and White and he is now averaging 15.6 yards per catch through Miami’s first six games.

And, Wilson has becoming one of the top big-play threats after the catch in the AFC, he even threw a touchdown pass to Jakeem Grant on a trick play in the win over the Raiders in week two.

Look for the creativity from offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains to continue to get Wilson into space and have the ability to make big plays continuing with this week’s match-up with the Detroit Lions.

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Miami Dolphins

Dramatic win moves Dolphins up in our Power Rankings

Jamil King

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Our latest version of the F.F.I. Power Rankings will cause some debate. This is especially with an NFL moving into the top 3 and a brand new team making it’s debut. Take a look:

5. FIU Panthers- With the Canes, Jags and Bucs all losing, the fifth spot was up for grabs. The Panthers are currently 4-2 and on top of Conference USA’s East division. The Panthers two loses are against power five schools Miami and Indiana. FIU is led on offense by quarterback James Morgan a transfer from Bowling Green. Morgan has thrown for 1,368 yards with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. Morgan will look to stay hot against Rice this week.

4. USF Bulls- The theme of the rest of these teams wins will be it wasn’t pretty. The Bulls needed a late last-minute drive and a pass from Blake Barnett to Tyre McCants with only several seconds left and a Coby Weiss’ 22-yard field goal with 2 seconds left to sneak by Tulsa. Jordan Cronkrite was able to rip off another big run of 66 yards but aside from that was held in check.

Barnett struggled during the game, and we even saw appearances from back up Chris Oladokun. The Bulls were able to squeak this one out and remain undefeated going into their homecoming game against UCONN.

3. Miami Dolphins- The Dolphins go from unranked to the number three spot. They were able to defeat a Bears team that has been impressive this season. The Khalil Mack-led defense had their least destructive game. Brock Osweiler threw for a career-high 380 yards and three touchdowns in a relief appearance for Ryan Tannehill, who sat out because of an injured throwing shoulder. Frank Gore had a resurgence. Albert Wilson turned two short passes into long touchdowns. Rookie kicker Jason Sanders (above) was money all day, and the Phins squeaked one out in overtime. At 4-2 they move into our top 5.

2. Florida Gators- The theme of close wins continues. The Gators were in a close one with Vanderbilt all afternoon. Tensions were high, when both coaches were yelling at each other by the Gator sideline after the benches briefly spread onto the field. The Gators were hurt by early turnovers and red zone struggles, but were able to put together enough offense to comeback for another win. Four SEC wins in a row (two on the road) is impressive. The Gators head into the bye week to prepare for a game against Georgia that now could decide the SEC East.

1. UCF Knights- The Knights had the closest of all the close calls last week, but remain in our top spot. UCF coach Josh Heupel gambled and went for it on a critical 4th down and the result was a 71-yard rushing touchdown. The Knights would take the lead in the 4th quarter. The Tigers moved to the UCF territory but, botched clock management in the final 30 seconds derailed a comeback. The Knights somehow found a way to win this game and keep the streak at 19 wins. UCF will head to East Carolina where they will look to have an easier time.

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