Professor Will's report card

Will Manso breaks down Dolphins-Steelers

By Will Manso - Sports Director
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PITTSBURGH - That finish was insane! But the Dolphins hung on by Antonio Brown's toe to beat the Steelers and keep their playoffs hopes very much alive.

They don't give style points in the NFL, especially this late into the season. It's all about winning and the Dolphins did just that. In the process, they improve to 7-6 and keep pace with the Ravens for the final playoff spot in the AFC. Here are the grades:

Offense- A

Anytime this offense finally breaks the 27 point barrier, they have to get an A. Were they really perfect? No. But given the snowy weather, tough atmosphere, patch work offensive line and pressure of winning, this offense did an outstanding job.

Ryan Tannehill did throw a pick-six that was crucial in the Steelers comeback attempt, but he also settled down after that to make some key passes. Tannehill also had some big runs.

Speaking of runs, how about the effort of Daniel Thomas? Here's a guy that was out for the season a few weeks ago, and yet he returned to make some tough runs. Meanwhile, I have to give a game ball to Charles Clay. The young tight end has developed into a true threat for the Dolphins.

Finally, Brian Hartline made one of the best catches you'll see that led Miami's comeback in the fourth quarter. 34 points from this team is a rarity, and it came in the biggest of games.

Defense- C

While the offense was surprisingly productive, the defense was surprisingly ineffective. They started fast, but Big Ben and the Steelers carved them up in the second half. I was shocked to see this defense give up so many points in the third quarter. But the D has been strong for most of the season, so they can get a pass today. Plus, the d-line was still pretty darn good. That miracle finish was stressful and could have been one of the biggest collapses in Dolphins history. But they won and that's the bottom line.

Special Teams- B

Given the circumstances, the special teams were fine. Caleb Sturgis missed a 52 yard field goal, but given the field conditions, that was a lot to ask for. He made his other two kicks.

Coaching- B

I give high praise to offensive coordinator Mike Sherman for coming up with a really strong game plan, but Joe Philbin continues to confuse me with some of his decisions. He had Sturgus attempt that long kick, and it could have really cost his team. He also continues to make some curious decisions with his usage of time outs.

But again, the theme of the day is Miami won, and when you do that in such a key game, it's hard to really complain.

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