Yesterday was perhaps the longest travel day of my career. (Using Chicago's O'Hare as a connection hub in December and counting on Farm Mule Airlines American Eagle as the connector is a bad idea, folks). I was, however, home by midnight.
Anyway, the folks at ProFootballFocus.com got the film review of the Dolphins stirring victory over Pittsburgh to me early this week. And I'll add insight where I can as usual.
Here we go:
First let me say that in Mike Wallace's first game against his former team there was lots of pregame hugs and cheer. And the Pittsburgh defense paid much attention to Wallace. While he caught only two passes for 19 yards, he affected the game.
Take, for example, the six-yard TD from Ryan Tannehill to Charles Clay in the second quarter. Clay was all alone in the right corner of the end zone. Know why?
Wallace, who had lined up on the right side as usual, ran an in-cut and not only was he doubled but actually and without exageration five Steelers defenders -- FIVE -- zoned him up in the middle of the field to keep him contained.
That left Clay uncovered for the easy throw by Tannehill.
Obviously it was a defensive bust. But it spoke to the unseen (in the statistics) effect Wallace can have on a defense.
RB Lamar Miller outsnapped Daniel Thomas 20-10 before leaving. Thomas played all but one snap after Miller left with a concussion.
Nate Garner started, but played just 16 snaps. Sam Brenner played 48 snaps at left guard.
Salguero: It seems Brenner is mounting something of a push for the starting job outright. He has been something of an epiphany this season -- a rookie undrafted free agent -- making the suspension of Pro Bowl guard Richie Incognito seem of no effect.
Despite seeing just two targets, Rishard Matthews played 43 snaps. The Dolphins still prefer their 11 personnel above anything else.
It was another short passing day for Ryan Tannehill. On passes over 10 yards, he was 3-for-8, while on all other passes, he was 17-for-25.
Tannehill didn’t handle pressure very well, going just 1-of-8 and getting sacked twice when either blitzed or under pressure.
Daniel Thomas performed well, but the Steelers’ defense weren’t really touching him. Just 29 of 105 yards came after contact.
When Brian Hartline moved into the slot and worked on slot corner William Gay, he caught all 3 of his targets for 32 yards.
Clay caught passes against Lawrence Timmons, Troy Polamalu, Cortez Allen, Ike Taylor, and Will Allen. He also had that wide open TD.
Dmitri Patterson returned from his groin injury to play 12 snaps. Nolan Carroll started but did get a couple of series off in the first half.
Phillip Wheeler had his fifth game with a grade of -3.0 or worse this season.
Cameron Wake continued his run of good play now that he’s fully healthy. He tallied, four hurries, a hit, and one sack.
The Dolphins did not exclusively use Brent Grimes to shadow Antonio Brown. However, Grimes still excelled in the matchup, allowing two catches for 18 yards on four targets.
Jared Odrick peeled off the line of scrimmage and was in coverage on Jerricho Cotchery’s TD catch.
Salguero: Interesting zone blitz idea but not a good matchup in coverage.
Finally a bit of news: The Dolphins are signing safety Michael Thomas to the roster today. They lost R.J. Stanford for the rest of the season to an ankle injury on Sunday. Thomas was on the 49ers practice squad and is a rookie from Stanford.