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Steelers defeat Dolphins 30-24, season over

It looked bleak for the Dolphins when their starting quarterback left the game against Pittsburgh with an injury, and then their No. 2 quarterback left the game by the third quarter with an injury, and they were trailing 27-10.

Enter third-string quarterback Tyler Thigpen and he directs two touchdown drives to make the score 27-24.

Fact is the Dolphins got the ball inside Pittsburgh territory after a Ben Roethlisberger fumble and Miami looked like it had chance to take the lead. But midnight struck for Cinderella.

Thigpen threw an interception. And another one.

Then the Houston Texans beat New England to elminate Miami from the playoffs.

Then the Steelers clinched the 30-24 victory with a late FG drive.

And so the season is over. The Dolphins finish at 7-9.

So where are we?

Are the Dolphins a team that regressed as their record shows -- going from 11-5 in 2008 to 7-9 this season? Or are they a better team than they were in 2008 that ran into a tougher schedule? Or somewhere in the middle?