The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel is reporting the NFL won't set a new time until after storm damage in South Florida is assessed. Sunday afternoon has been ruled out, but the possibility exists the game could be played Sunday night, Monday or Tuesday.
ESPN is reporting the game will be played Sunday at 8:30 p.m.
The Steelers left for Miami at 6:30 p.m. Friday night.
On Saturday morning, Dolphins president Eddie Jones made this announcement:
"After conferring with local authorities and the NFL, in the best interest of public safety it was decided that under no circumstances will the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers be played on Sunday afternoon. The Commissioner's office has asked the two teams to consider the larger public safety issues to determine when the game can best be played. A final decision regarding the revised time and date of the game jointly will be made in consultation with the league, the Steelers, and government officials as the hurricane track becomes clearer."
The move was made after weather experts determined the hurricane was strengthening and was packing winds of 115 miles per hour early Saturday afternoon. The winds were expected to reach 130 m.p.h. by early Sunday morning when the storm was to have made landfall in Fort Pierce, which is located 115 miles north of Pro Player Stadium.
"This is a dangerous storm and strengthening," emergency management director Craig Fugate told The Sun-Sentinel. "Any resemblance they think this has to Frances, which was weakening, is misguided."
Hurricane Frances forced Dolphins players to leave family and homes behind for the final exhibition game at New Orleans on Sept. 3. Hurricane Ivan forced the Dolphins to move their regular-season opener ahead one day against the Tennessee Titans. Hurricane Jeanne will be the fourth hurricane to hit Florida in little more than six weeks.
Tropical force winds are expected to die down in Miami by Sunday night, but six inches of rain is expected to follow in Miami-Dade County. The rain, plus two teams with young, inexperienced quarterbacks, should produce conservative game plans which revolve around both teams' running games.
Last week, the Steelers (1-1) rushed for 93 yards on 25 carries (3.7 average) against the Baltimore Ravens, one of the best run defenses in the NFL.
The Dolphins (2-0), on the other hand, failed to rush for a first down for the first time in 34 years. New starting halfback Lamar Gordon was held to 22 yards on 19 carries.
In two games since coming over from the St. Louis Rams, Gordon has 54 yards on 31 carries for the lowest yards-per-carry average (1.7) of any NFL back with at least 10 carries.
The Dolphins are last in the NFL in rushing yards per game (45) after gaining only 25 on 20 carries against the Cincinnati Bengals, which had allowed Curtis Martin of the New York Jets to rush for 196 yards the previous week.
"They had a good game plan last week. That's the bottom line," Steelers defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen said of the Bengals. "The Dolphins gave up some plays in that game, but you can't judge by that. I've looked at four games. There was miscommunication. That's all their was. They'll get it together. It's something they can fix."
Von Oelhoffen feels "miscommunication" was the problem for a Miami line that, against the Steelers, will have five new starters from last season.
The last player to leave the lineup, left tackle Wade Smith, is being replaced by Damion McIntosh. He was picked up in the off-season from the San Diego Chargers; left guard Jeno James was picked up from the Carolina Panthers; center Seth McKinney replaced long-time starter Tim Ruddy after making two starts last season; right guard Taylor Whitley was inactive with the Dolphins all last season; and right tackle John St. Clair was picked up from the Rams after spending last season on the bench.
"It had nothing to do with talent, just miscommunication. They're good," von Oelhoffen insists. "They did a great job against Tennessee and they have one of the best defensive lines in the league. The Bengals did a good job blitzing. They were just coming free."
Von Oelhoffen believes the Dolphins' line will be able to hear the calls and play better at home. The Dolphins hope it's enough to keep A.J. Feeley protected in his second start at quarterback with the team.
The Dolphins hope to win with defense and their kicking game. Olindo Mare is 2 for 3 this season and the Steelers' Jeff Reed is 1 for 2. All of the kicks were from 40 yards or beyond.
Defensively, the Dolphins will miss starting tackles Larry Chester and Tim Bowens, but are healthy in the secondary for the first time.
Since 1990, the Dolphins are 6-1 against rookie quarterbacks and hope to make the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger another victim. The only rookie quarterback to beat the Dolphins in that time was Drew Bledsoe in overtime at New England in 1994.
Storm warning: Best running game to win
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