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Pittsburgh at Miami

Steelers eliminate Dolphins -- then get eliminated themselves

CBSSports.com wire reports

MIAMI -- On the brink of elimination from the playoff race, the Pittsburgh Steelers averted a fourth-quarter collapse to extend their season.

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It ended three hours later.

The reigning Super Bowl champions sent two Miami quarterbacks to the sideline, including Pat White with a scary head injury, and beat the Dolphins 30-24 Sunday. But Pittsburgh (9-7) was eliminated when Baltimore clinched an AFC wild-card berth by winning at Oakland, 21-13.

"I'd rather we go out with a win than a loss," said Ben Roethlisberger, who threw three touchdown passes.

The Dolphins (7-9), who won the AFC East last season, were eliminated with two minutes left in their game when Houston beat New England. The Dolphins spent much of the season trying to recover from an 0-3 start, climbed above .500 for the first time at 7-6, then lost their final three games.

Their drought without a playoff win is now nine seasons long.

"I told the team 7-9 is mediocre, and mediocrity is not going to be accepted here," second-year coach Tony Sparano said.

Pittsburgh was undone by losses to the woeful Chiefs, Raiders and Browns in a span of 19 days during a late-season five-game losing streak.

"We didn't do what we were supposed to do and take care of our business," receiver Santonio Holmes said. "Therefore we have to suffer with what happens."

Plenty of Steelers fans stayed with their team until the end. Many in the stadium wore black and gold, and the visiting team provided lots to cheer about.

LaMarr Woodley led the defensive charge with two sacks, two tackles for a loss and three quarterback hurries. Rashard Mendenhall ran for 94 yards and Willie Parker added 91.

But the crowd grew silent when White was carted off the field with a head injury following a helmet-to-helmet collision with cornerback Ike Taylor. White moved his arms and legs before leaving the field after an eight-minute delay, and he was taken to a hospital for examination.

"I told him, 'I hope you feel better, man,"' said Taylor, who was unhurt. "You never want to see a guy down like that. He kept repeating, 'Thanks,' and I just kept telling him to get better."

Miami starter Chad Henne sat out the second half with an eye injury that blurred his vision, and when the rookie White departed with two minutes left in the third quarter, Tyler Thigpen made his first appearance for the Dolphins.

They trailed 27-10 before Thigpen led touchdown drives on his first two series.

"It irritates the heck out of you," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "But I didn't sense a great deal of panic. The guys made the necessary plays to keep us in it."

With six minutes left and the score 27-24, Joey Porter recovered Roethlisberger's fumble on a sack at the Steelers 13 to give Miami a chance to take the lead. But Thigpen was intercepted by Ryan Clark at the 2.

Roethlisberger appeared to favor his throwing arm during the next possession, but he led Pittsburgh on a 14-play, 83-yard drive. It ended with Jeff Reed's third field goal for a 30-24 lead with 40 seconds left.

Taylor intercepted Thigpen on Miami's next play to seal the outcome.

"Unlucky there at the end throwing two interceptions," Thigpen said. "Both I would like to get back."

The Steelers never had to turn to their backup quarterback, but Roethlisberger said he needed to see a doctor after the game. He declined to discuss his injury.

Pittsburgh found some consolation in winning its final three games after the five-game skid.

"There are a lot of teams that are capable of going 6-10 facing the circumstances this group was faced with," Tomlin said. "They knuckled down, they hung together. They did the best of their ability to fix it. We won the last three ball games and gave ourselves a chance."

Roethlisberger finished with 26 touchdown passes by throwing for scores covering 5 yards to Holmes, 54 yards to Mike Wallace and 3 yards to Heath Miller. Roethlisberger passed for 220 yards and ended the season at 4,328.

The Steelers added 202 yards rushing, held Ricky Williams to 31 and came up with three interceptions.

"We finished the season the way we were supposed to," Holmes said.


  • Miami CB Vontae Davis left the game in the first half with a left wrist injury.
  • Steelers safety Troy Polamalu (knee) was again inactive.
  • LB Jason Taylor became the fourth Dolphins player to start a game in three decades.
  • Miami FB Lousaka Polite was successful in his only third-down carry to finish 16 for 16 on third- and fourth-down conversions.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Related Video

Sun. Jan. 3Final
Pass: B. Roethlisberger (18-27, 220) C. Henne (16-20, 140)
Rush: R. Mendenhall (20-94) R. Williams (12-31)
Rec: M. Wallace (2-64) D. Bess (5-85)
Scoring Summary
TDSantonio Holmes, 5 Yd pass from Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed kick is good), 8:02. Drive: 12 plays, 80 yards in 6:58.
TDLex Hilliard, 11 Yd pass from Chad Henne (Dan Carpenter kick is good), 3:18. Drive: 9 plays, 66 yards in 4:44.
TDMike Wallace, 54 Yd pass from Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed kick is good), 0:25. Drive: 6 plays, 67 yards in 2:53.
FGDan Carpenter 25 Yd, 9:21. Drive: 13 plays, 61 yards in 6:04.
FGJeff Reed 22 Yd, 5:32. Drive: 9 plays, 52 yards in 3:49.
TDHeath Miller, 3 Yd pass from Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed kick is good), 3:42. Drive: 9 plays, 90 yards in 4:18.
FGJeff Reed 21 Yd, 13:57. Drive: 8 plays, 51 yards in 2:37.
TDBrian Hartline, 16 Yd run (Dan Carpenter kick is good), 11:24. Drive: 7 plays, 61 yards in 2:33.
TDDavone Bess, 34 Yd pass from Tyler Thigpen (Dan Carpenter kick is good), 8:37. Drive: 3 plays, 62 yards in 1:15.
FGJeff Reed 33 Yd, 0:40. Drive: 14 plays, 83 yards in 5:30.

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Players of the Game

D. Bess
Rec 5
Yds 85
Avg 17.0
TD 1

B. Roethlisberger
Att 27
Comp 18
Yds 220
TD 3
B. Roethlisberger18/2722030
S. Holmes0/1001
R. Mendenhall2094036
W. Parker1291034
B. Roethlisberger417013
M. Wallace264154
H. Ward861013
H. Miller556137
R. Mendenhall126026
M. Moore1808
S. Holmes1515
C. Henne16/2014011
T. Thigpen4/88312
P. White0/2000
R. Williams1231016
P. White527010
B. Hartline220116
L. Hilliard1909
L. Polite2604
K. Sheets1505
T. Thigpen1101
C. Henne1000
D. Bess585134
A. Fasano241027
B. Hartline234024
G. Camarillo322010
T. Ginn Jr.32008
L. Hilliard111111
J. Haynos1606
R. Williams3408
Complete Player Stats
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TEN 17 Final
SEA 13
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SD 23
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OAK 13
KC 44 Final
DEN 24
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ATL 20 Final
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NYJ 37
NYG 7 Final
MIN 44
NE 27 Final
HOU 34
CHI 37 Final
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PHI 0 Final
DAL 24
JAC 17 Final
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