Throughout most of the season, the Miami Dolphins have been a one-dimensional team. Their offensive line has not been able to open holes for the running backs and they have had to rely on second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The offensive line has also had issues in pass protection (Tannehill has been sacked more than any other QB in the league) as well, but they have had to pass more then they would like.
Miami ranks 25th out of 32 teams in the NFL in rushing yards and are 29th in carries. They have had to abandon the running game early on which hurts their ability to close out games. This season, four of their six losses have come when they were tied or leading with eight minutes or less left in the fourth quarter. Their inability to run the ball and kill the clock has allowed the other teams to control the end of the game.
Most NFL teams would like to be close to a 50-50 ratio when it comes to throwing and running the ball. Going into Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh, Tannehill has thrown the ball 451 times and the Dolphins have run the ball 267 times. That means the Dolphins are throwing the ball nearly 63 percent of the time and that number doesn’t include the 45 times Tannehill was sacked.
On Sunday against Pittsburgh, Tannehill threw the ball 33 times and the Dolphins ran 24. That means Miami threw the ball 57 percent of the time and were able to be more balanced. Starting running back Lamar Miller left the game early with a concussion. Miami turned to backup Daniel Thomas, who was coming back from an ankle injury that forced him to miss a game. Thomas ran the ball 16 times for 105 yards and one TD.This was the second time Thomas rushed for over 100 yards in his three-year career, the other time was in Week 1 of his rookie season.
Miami ended the game with 181 yards rushing as a team and 179 yards net passing. This kind of balance is necessary to win in the fourth quarter like they did on Sunday. They trailed 28-24 after the first play in the fourth quarter, but outscored the Steelers 10-0 afterwards to win 34-28.
This win allowed Miami to separate from most teams in the AFC Wild Card race except for the Baltimore Ravens. With the Kansas City Chiefs guaranteed to get one of the spots, there is a group of teams within striking distance. Miami lost to Baltimore so they have the tie breaker, but wins over the New York Jets, San Diego Chargers and now Steelers allows them to only chase one team.