1:00 PM EST on Sunday, Jan 3rd. The game will be broadcast
regionally on CBS TV, on DirecTV channel 707, on Sirius radio 154 and
127 and on WQAM radio.
PLACE: LandShark Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL
WEATHER FORECAST: Sunny, with a high near 70. North wind between 9 and
FIELD CONDITIONS: LandShark Stadium has a natural grass surface that
should be in good shape.
STANDINGS & STATS: The Dolphins are 7-8 and third in the AFC East.
The Steelers are 8-7 and ranked 3rd in the AFC North, behind the
Ravens and Bengals.
Dolphins Pts/Game Rank Steelers Pts/Game Rank
Scored 22.4 16 Scored 22.5 13
Allowed 24.0 25 Allowed 20.0 12
Dolphins Yds/Game Rank Steelers Yds/Game Rank
Total Offense: 340 15 Total Defense: 305 6
Rushing: 142 4 vs Rush: 89 3
Passing: 198 20 vs Pass: 216 16
Total Offense: 369 9 Total Defense: 346 19
Rushing: 106 22 vs Rush: 109 12
Passing: 263 7 vs Pass: 237 23
Sacks Made (Avg/G) Allowed (Avg/G)
Dolphins 41 2.7 31 2.1
Steelers 44 2.9 47 3.1
Individual Skill Position Stats:
QB: QB Henne: 258-431-2738-11-13-74.4
Rush: RB Williams: 229-1090-4.8-11
Rush: FB Polite: 35-117-3.3-0
Rec: WR Bess: 71-673-9.5-1
Rec: WR Camarillo: 47-530-11.3-0
Rec: WR Ginn,Jr: 35-434-12.4-1
QB: QB Roethlisberger: 319-479-4108-23-12-98.9
Rush: RB Mendenhall: 222-1014-4.6-7
Rush: RB Parker: 86-298-3.5-0
Rec: WR Ward: 87-1106-12.7-6
Rec: WR Holmes: 78-1243-15.9-4
Rec: TE Miller: 71-733-10.3-5
The Steelers have won four of the last five against the
Dolphins to tie the overall series at 11, including the playoffs.
PROBABLE: RB Ricky Williams (shoulder)
OT Vernon Carey (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Brett Keisel (neck)
WR Hines Ward (hamstring)
S Troy Polamalu (knee)
PROBABLE: OG Chris Kemoeatu (wrist)
LB Rocky Boiman (calf)
DE Travis Kirsche (calf)
RB Willie Parker (shoulder)
QB - 7 Chad Henne LE - 70 Kendall Langford
RB - 34 Ricky Williams NT - 96 Paul Soliai
FB - 39 Lousaka Polite RE - 94 Randy Starks
WR - 83 Greg Camarillo SLB - 99 Jason Taylor
WR - 82 Brian Hartline ILB - 51 Akin Ayodele
TE - 80 Anthony Fasano ILB - 53 Reggie Torbor
LT - 77 Jake Long WLB - 55 Joey Porter
LG - 65 Justin Smiley LCB - 21 Vontae Davis
C - 67 Joe Berger RCB - 24 Sean Smith
RG - 75 Nate Garner SS - 37 Yeremiah Bell
RT - 72 Vernon Carey FS - 28 Gibril Wilson
K - 5 Dan Carpenter P - 2 Brandon Fields
PR - 15 Davone Bess KR - 19 Ted Ginn,Jr
It looks like Joe Berger and Nate Garner will continue to start
on the offensive line. Right now, the status of Ricky Williams is
unclear, but Reggie Torbor will almost certainly start in place of
QB - 7 Ben Roethlisberger LDE - 99 Brett Keisel
RB - 34 Rashard Mendenhall NT - 98 Casey Hampton
FB - 44 Frank Summers RDE - 96 Ziggy Hood
WR - 86 Hines Ward LOLB - 56 LaMarr Woodley
WR - 10 Santonio Holmes LILB - 51 James Farrior
TE - 83 Heath Miller RILB - 94 Lawrence Timmons
LT - 78 Max Starks ROLB - 92 James Harrison
LG - 65 Kraig Urbik CB - 24 Ike Taylor
C - 62 Justin Hartwig CB - 22 William Gay
RG - 79 Trai Essex SS - 23 Tyrone Carter
RT - 74 Willie Colon FS - 25 Ryan Clark
K - 3 Jeff Reed P - 9 Daniel Sepulveda
PR - 11 Stefan Logan KR - 11 Stefan Logan
Hines Ward did not practice on Thursday, but is expected to
play on Sunday. Troy Polamalu was limited in practice on Thursday, but
reports on him are far more uncertain.
- Dolphins vs Themselves: All season long, the Dolphins have
self-destructed and the letdown over the last two weeks has
essentially eliminated them from the playoffs.
- TE Heath Miller vs Gibril Wilson: Steelers' tight end Heath
Miller has caught 71 passes for 733 yards and 5 TDs, while the
Dolphins' safeties - especially Wilson - have had trouble in
- Davis and Smith vs Holmes and Ward: The Steelers are
blessed with not one but two of the best receivers in the game. Both
Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes have over 1000 yards receiving this
season. This will be the final test for Sean Smith and Vontae Davis,
who are progressing slowly but surely in their first year.
- LBs Harrison and Woodley vs Carey and Long: Steelers'
linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley have 21.5 sacks between
them this year. The Dolphins will most likely have to pass
effectively to win this game and that means that Jake Long and Vernon
Carey must keep Henne safe.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
The biggest question on the roster this week is Ricky
Williams, after his shoulder injury last week against the Texans. He
returned late in the game, however, and I would guess that he will
play this week. Jake Long and Vernon Carey will face two of the better
pass-rushing linebackers in the league in this game and the Dolphins
will hope to limit their effectiveness. And Chad Henne needs to put
more touch on his passes.
Channing Crowder was placed on injured reserve this week and
Reggie Torbor is normally his backup, but OLB Charlie Anderson took
some snaps with the first team at ILB this week. The secondary has
its work cut out for it this week, facing one of the best receiving
corps in the league. While Davis and Smith are playing better as the
season progresses, Gibril Wilson still has trouble handling the ball
Steelers' Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is one of the better
quarterbacks in the league and he has a lot of offensive weapons at
his disposal. RB Rashard Mendenhall averages 4.6 yards per carry and
has picked up over 1000 yards this season. WRs Hines Ward and Santonio
Holmes have both exceeded 1000 yards receiving, while TE Heath Miller
has 71 receptions. On the other hand, the Steelers' offensive line
has given up 47 sacks this year, second worst in the NFL.
Both Steelers' outside linebackers, James Harrison and LaMarr
Woodley, have over 10 sacks this season, while ILB James Farrior leads
the team in tackles. S Troy Polamalu leads the team in interceptions
Steelers kick returner Stefan Logan returns both kickoffs and
punts. He has a very good kickoff return average of 26.6 yards per
return, but averages an ordinary 8.5 yards per return on punts. Their
field goal kicker, Jeff Reed is very good. Miami's Ted Ginn was
ranked near the top of the league in kickoff returns, but has steadily
declined since blowing out the Jets in week 8. Devone Bess has been
improving in his punt returns, but is still not considered to be
The Dolphins are a team that has been taken off of playoff
life support and fans are just standing around waiting for them to
die. Of course, they could recover, but they'll need a lot of help
to do it. It goes without saying that the Dolphins must beat the
Steelers this week if they are to have any chance at making the
For Miami to make the post-season, the Jaguars must lose to
the Browns and Oakland must beat the Ravens (along with some other
things). However, neither the Raiders nor the Browns are likely to
win and the odds of both of them winning are very bad.
The Steelers also need help getting to the playoffs, but a lot
less help that Miami does. If the playoffs were held today, the
Steelers would be out. They need both the Bengals to beat the Jets
and the Patriots to beat the Texans. However, neither the Bengals nor
the Patriots have much to play for, while the Jets and Texans both
still have a shot at the playoffs but must win. It seems likely that
either the Jets or Patriots will lose on Sunday, so the Steelers will
probably not make it.
The Steelers have had a year that is much the opposite of the
Dolphins'. They got off to a fast start, going 6-2 in their first 8
games, but have gone 2-5 since then.
The Steelers also have not played well on the road. They have
a 2-5 road record and have lost games to Cleveland, Oakland and Kansas
City. On the other hand, they have beaten the Vikings, Denver, and
San Diego. They have played at the level of their competition for
much of the season.
One of the reasons they have had such an up and down season is
that their offensive line is next to last in giving up sacks this
year. They have allowed Ben Roethlisberger to go down 47 times this
season and that has played a big part in most of their defeats.
Unfortunately for the Dolphins, the Steelers are the kind of
team that has beaten the Dolphins this season. They have a very
strong offense and routinely score on big plays. They have 3 very
good receivers and a big, strong quarterback that is an expert at
avoiding pressure and getting the ball down the field. For Miami to
win, they must exert pressure on Roethlisberger and bring him down a
When Miami has the ball, they will probably have to rely more
on their passing attack this week. The Steelers are third in the NFL
against the run and since Ronnie Brown was injured, Miami's running
game has not been nearly as effective. We might see more of the
Wildpat this week as the Dolphins try to throw some wrinkles into
their offense, but it seems unlikely to me that it would be very
The passing attack has a chance to be effective if Troy
Polamalu is out or even limited, as the Steelers have only picked off
9 passes this year and 3 of those were by Polamalu. However, for
Henne to be effective in the passing game, he must be better with his
touch passes and the offensive line must do a good job in protecting
him. Henne has a very strong arm, but not every pass should be a
bullet. Part of the reason Ricky Williams had a pass bounce off his
chest last week was that Henne threw it too hard for that situation.
On defense, Miami's front seven must win the battle against
the Steelers' offensive line. With Channing Crowder out, it will be
interesting to see who starts in his place. While Reggie Torbor is
his backup on the depth chart, Charlie Anderson has been getting reps
with the first team at ILB this week. Both players have had some
impressive appearance this year, but there is a reason that neither
have taken over for Crowder as the starter.
Jason Taylor, former Steeler Joey Porter, Cameron Wake and
Randy Starks need to have good games this week to stop the Steelers.
They have an opportunity to get a lot of pressure on Roethlisberger,
but it remains to be seen if they will do so.
Of course, Vontae Davis and Sean Smith will have their work
cut out for them, defending the Steelers' receivers, but Davis is
improving and Smith has played well all year. The bigger problem is
whether Miami's safeties can cover TE Heath Miller. We have been
seeing Chris Clemons more over the last few weeks and we may see him
get the job of covering Miller this weekend.
I believe that the result of this game will be determined by
Miami's pass rushers and Chad Henne. If Henne doesn't turn the ball
over and make too many mistakes, the offense will be able to move the
ball against the Steelers' defense. However, Henne will likely be
under a lot of pressure and he must take what the Steelers will give
him and not force the ball into tight coverage like he has been.
Miami's pass rush must get to Roethlisberger early and often,
which they should be able to do against the Steelers' offensive line.
If they give him too much time, his excellent receivers will
eventually get open against Miami's secondary and the Steelers will
convert a lot of big plays.
Of course, it goes without saying that the Dolphins can't
afford to start this game like they're sleepwalking. They don't stand
much of a chance if they let the Steelers get out to a big lead, like
they did against the Titans and Texans. Coach Sparano has been
emphasizing that aspect of the game this week in practice and
hopefully it will have an effect on Sunday.
PLACES TO WATCH:
To watch the game on TV, you may go to one of the sports bars listed on my "Places To Watch" web page.
To listen to the game live over the Internet, you must now pay
the NFL for the privelege. They are charging $9.99 (US) per month or
$39.99 for the season for something you used to get for free. If you want to sign up for that, go to the following link NFL Field Pass.
Also, here is a list of some websites that have live scores
and updates. Both the Official Website and NFL.com have almost live
applications that run in your browser and give you current stats and