Final Game 11 Observations

Tuesday is the one day off for every team in the NFL; for us, it's the day we take a final look at the most recent game before we start focusing on the upcoming opponent. So here are some final thoughts about the 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The two biggest story lines coming into the game were Joey Porter's return to Pittsburgh and Ricky Williams making his 2007 debut after almost two years away from the Dolphins.

But those two soon gave way to a more disturbing issue, the pitiful condition of the field.

To put it simply, the surface at Heinz Field was an absolute joke.

Jason Taylor described it best after the game when he said, not totally in jest, that he would line up in a three-point stance and his hand would sink into the ground to his wrist.

So just imagine what the footing was like. As Porter said, it was like playing on the beach.

He might as well have added, on the bench with soft sand.

The conditions made for a horrible game, one where it was practically impossible to do a lot on offense and kicking field goals was an adventure.

Already, there's word that the Steelers will be thinking about installing artificial turf at Heinz Field, and the league should almost mandate that they do it to avoid a repeat of the disgraceful display we saw on Monday night.

INCOMPLETE GRADE: Because of the conditions, it's difficult, if not impossible, to gauge how the Dolphins played or how John Beck played or how anybody played. Yes, it might have made the Dolphins more competitive against the Steelers, but for the long term Monday night did nothing to help the Dolphins' development.

RICKY REACTION: Saw some recaps of the game talking about how Williams struggled in his return and didn't do much. How could he? Not only was he dealing with bad footing, he also was going against one of the best run defenses in the NFL. Again, this was not a game where you could make any sort of evaluation. Of course, now we won't get to see Williams again this season because he tore a chest muscle when linebacker Lawrence Timmons stepped on him going after Williams' fumble in the first quarter. Just one more case of the Dolphins' bad luck in 2007.

PORTER CAME TO PLAY: How great was it to see Porter yelling to someone in the Heinz Field, "You know you love me! You know you do!" For all the criticism he's taken this season, Porter looked charged up to play against his former team and made some plays, the biggest being a first-quarter interception. It also makes you wonder, though, why he hasn't played this hard throughout this season. Or is just a matter of him being used improperly? How about a little of both.

CAMERON'S CALL: Kicker Jay Feely said after the game he was able to make some kicks in pregame warmups from about 40 yards once he was outside the sloppiest patch on the field, which makes one wonder why Cam Cameron decided to go for it on fourth-and-11 from the Pittsburgh 25-yard line in the fourth quarter instead of letting Feely attempt a 42-, 43-yard field goal. The way Jeff Reed badly missed on a 44-yard attempt from the same spot on the field in the third quarter, you can't really fault Cameron for the choice he made. We have a bigger issue with him calling two consecutive running plays after the Dolphins had a first-and-10 at the Steelers 24-yard line. Dolphins running backs averaged 2 yards per carry during the game, what was the thinking there? On third down, a screen play was busted up because linebacker James Farrior was on Beck too quickly. First or second down would have been the time to throw the screen, not third down. I also hated the play-calling on the Dolphins' last drive when they were pinned at their own 10 and needed at least one first down to not give the Steelers great field position. First down was a quick toss to Marty Booker, who gained 1 yard. After Beck was sacked on second down, the third-and-12 play was a short outside pass to tight end Justin Peelle, who had no prayer of getting the first down. So the Dolphins punted, the Steelers started the drive at the Miami 42, and they won the game. We've said it before, we'll say it again, the Dolphins aren't nearly talented enough to play close to the vest and come on out top. They need to take some chances sometimes.


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Alain Poupart is the Associate Editor of Dolphin Digest and DolphinDigest.com. To read him every day, visit DolphinDigest.com and become a Miami Dolphins insider.