Dolphins can't overlook kicking game

DAVIE, Fla. – Heinz Field can be a house of horrors for opposing kickers. Miami Dolphins rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis will get his first taste of one of the trickiest winter stadiums to play in the NFL.

Whether it is wind, a slippery surface or inclement weather, Heinz Field potentially has it all in December. Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7) is an important one for both teams and could come down to kicking and field position.

“I’ve never been there, but watching it on TV, Pittsburgh always is pretty tough conditions,” Sturgis said Friday. “I know multiple teams play on the field. They do have the lower end zone there. Around this time of the year you’re in between snow and rain. So I hear it’s pretty tough.”

Sturgis started the year hot, making his first 10 field goals. Since then, Sturgis is 13 of his last 20 (65 percent). He’s missed at least one field goal in five of his past seven games, including two misses in a Week 8 loss to the New England Patriots.

Many opposing kickers have missed field goals at Heinz Field. Therefore, Sturgis must be at his best.

“I’m not a meteorologist, but I think that open end and that wind can play some tricks,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said.

The Dolphins (6-6) have little margin for error in their push for the playoffs. They cannot afford to leave points on the field due to missed field goals.

Sturgis, who played at the University of Florida, said he’s never kicked in the snow. This may be a first on Sunday if the early forecasts in Pittsburgh hold true.

“I heard you prefer snow over really cold rain; I’ve been told that,” Sturgis explained. “You have to be a little bit lighter on your feet to make sure your foot is not going to slip from under you. You have to still stay square to your target.”