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Steelers @ Dolphins

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STATS LLC Associated Press

Oct 12, 2016


The Week 6 NFL matchup that will take place this Sunday in Miami is a contest of two teams headed in different directions.


The Dolphins are coming off an embarrassing 30-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Miami is 1-4 and not playing very good football on offense or defense.


The Pittsburgh Steelers sit atop the AFC North at 4-1 and fly into South Florida on a two-game winning streak.


Both teams have suffered key injuries to starting players.


The Dolphins entered their Week 5 game against the Titans missing seven projected starters.


The Steelers played the New York Jets in Week 5 down four starters and lost captain and defensive end Cam Heyward in the game because of a hamstring injury.


The Dolphins' backups have not stepped up while the Steelers' players and head coach Mike Tomlin live by the "next-man-up" credo.


"It's the next man up," linebacker Jarvis Jones said. "Coach Tomlin is really serious about it. Guys take pride when they're the next man up.


"When you get that helmet you have to take full advantage of it. The guys did great this week and we got a great win together."


Added linebacker Vince Williams, who led the defense in tackles for back-to-back weeks while filling in for injured inside linebacker Ryan Shazier: "The standard is the standard. You know we believe in that. That's real. That's it. I don't know what else you want me to say. Nobody on this team believes they are a backup. Everybody just believes they are waiting for their opportunity to put their hand in the pile and help this team win football games."


While the Steelers have used this motto to continue to win games, the Dolphins, with healthy players or not, continue to struggle in all phases.


The offensive line without injured left tackle Brendan Albert (flu) and left guard Laremy Tunsil (ankle) gave up six sacks to the Titans. Starting right tackle Ja'Wuan James allowed a sack against Tennessee, meaning he has allowed at least one sack in each of the last three games.


James might have caught a break with the injury to Heyward. The starting left end for the Steelers will not play against the Dolphins. This is the first missed game in Heyward's career and snaps his streak of 85 straight games played.


Tomlin's motto of "next man up" falls into the lap of backup defensive end Ricardo Mathews and a rotation from nose tackle to end by Daniel McCullers and Javon Hargrave.


The Steelers' defense runs a 3-4 so the linebackers will be asked to blitz more this week against a struggling Dolphins offensive line.


The Dolphins released former starting right guard Billy Turner and 2015 16-game starting guard Dallas Thomas on Monday. Head coach Adam Gase knows his team needs to play better especially along the offensive line.


Gase said: "We're inept right now. We've just got to figure something out. We tried to slow it down (Sunday), and huddle, and we only had 41 plays and eat up 23 minutes. We're not getting enough first downs.


"We had a chance there on the third-and-1, and the ball gets batted down. We think we're in the end zone to be down by three and we get a holding call. It just seems that we can't get out of our own way right now."


The Steelers don't share that same feeling on offense. The offensive line needs to protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger better as indicated by the nine sacks they have allowed.


But Roethlisberger is third in the NFL with 1,496 yards passing and has thrown for 15 touchdowns with only four interceptions.


Where the Steelers will look to make their offensive mark on Sunday is running the football. Running back Le'Veon Bell has accounted for 432 offensive yards since returning from his three-game suspension. The former Michigan State Spartan is averaging 105 yards rushing per game.


The Dolphins' run defense is the worst in the NFL and allows on average 150.8 yards per game. The much maligned defense without starting linebackers Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins allowed 235 yards rushing to the Titans.


Running back DeMarco Murray had 27 carries for 121 yards.


"We weren't finishing our tackles; that'll kill you every time, especially with a running back like that," Gase said of Murray.


The Dolphins have allowed two bruising style runners to gain over 120 yards against them this season. New England Patriots and former Steelers running back LeGarrette Blount was the first. Bell fits that mold as well.



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One week too early. Ah well.

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Ajayi decided to show up... If I start him in fantasy next week, I am sure the Dolphins will bench him or something ridiculous.

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