Dolphins continue woeful ways, fall to 0-11 after sloppy game

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A terrible field and dreadful weather caused

the Dolphins and Steelers to rewind to a different NFL era, a time

when points came at a premium and one field goal could decide a


They trudged through the quagmire of Heinz Field, nearly going

all night without scoring. Nearly.

Basement Dwellers
Everything about the Steelers-Dolphins game was ugly -- from the playing field to Miami's 0-10 record entering the game. When it was all over, the teams combined for the lowest scoring output in MNF history.
Nov. 2007Steelers (3) vs. Dolphins (0)3
Sept. 2006Jaguars (9) vs. Steelers (0)9
Dec. 199049ers (7) vs. Giants (3)10
Dec. 1980Raiders (9) vs. Broncos (3)12
Nov. 1977Colts (10) vs. Redskins (3)13
Oct. 1971Vikings (10) vs. Colts (3)13

Jeff Reed's 24-yard field goal with 17 seconds left Monday night

gave Pittsburgh a 3-0 victory over winless Miami, the first time in

64 years an NFL game went that long without any points.

It was the league's lowest-scoring game since Dec. 11, 1993,

when the New York Jets beat Washington 3-0. The Detroit Lions and

New York Giants played the NFL's last scoreless tie on Nov. 11,


"Those conditions, whew, they were horrendous," Steelers wide

receiver Hines Ward said after daylong rain and new sod created

awful playing conditions. "The footing was bad, all of a sudden

you'd hit a water puddle and sink down. Some of defensive backs

were scared about falling down and giving up a big play."

Hanging with the first-place Steelers (8-3) for 59½ minutes,

Miami (0-11) almost pushed this mess to overtime, where Pittsburgh

is 0-2 this season, but the Dolphins managed only 159 yards while

going nowhere nearly all night.

"That's what I was afraid of, overtime," Steelers linebacker

Larry Foote said. "You just knew it was going to be a 3-0 game, a

6-0 game."

The only scoring drive started on the Dolphins 42 after Miami

punted out of its end zone. Ben Roethlisberger drove the Steelers

into field goal range with completions of 21, 11 and 6 yards to


Reed, who had missed badly from 45 yards earlier on the

rain-drenched field, came through after Roethlisberger was sacked

on third down.

"You put new sod in and weather like this, it's not a good

combination," Reed said. "I planted [on his first field goal try]

and the whole sod moved over."

Miami's start is the worst for any team since the Lions began

0-12 in 2001. They finished 2-14.

And while the Dolphins keep heading toward the infamy of a

winless record, the New England Patriots (11-0) are striving to

duplicate Miami's perfect season in 1972.

NFL games have been played in downpours and blizzards, and the

aftermath of a hurricane -- the Steelers-Dolphins game in Miami in

September 2004, won by Pittsburgh 13-3 -- but this was a first: a

lightning and heavy rain delay in a late November game in


Lightning chased the players off the field during the pregame

warmups, and the teams were given only nine minutes for additional

warmups before the game started at 8:55 p.m., 25 minutes later than


After five high school and college games were played at Heinz

Field last weekend, crews hurriedly put down a new layer of sod

atop the chewed-up turf for Monday night's game.

"It was like being on the beach in the sand on every play,"

said Miami linebacker Joey Porter, the former Steelers star playing

against his old team for the first time.

The delayed start meant no national anthem or player

introductions. The rain washed away nearly all the yard lines on a

new grass field that had been in place less than 24 hours, and

Heinz Field crews hurriedly put down new lines at halftime.

"It was nasty," Miami linebacker Channing Crowder said.

The offenses didn't need to be introduced, considering how

little yardage was gained. With huge divots being kicked up play

after play, the Steelers had 112 yards and the Dolphins only 71 by

halftime, even with Miami running back Ricky Williams back on the

field, at least for a few minutes.

The 2002 NFL rushing champion, reinstated last week following a

drug-related suspension, carried six times for 15 yards in his

first game since Jan. 1, 2006, before injuring his shoulder.

"My No. 1 concern coming into the game was that you hurry a guy

back, obviously you can get hurt," Miami coach Cam Cameron said.

Already without injured running back Ronnie Brown, the Dolphins

also lost Jesse Chatman (neck). Chatman, who started the previous

three games, was questionable with a sore ankle going into the


The field was covered during the daylong rain, but quite a bit

of water found its way under the protective tarps and there were

numerous puddles and mushy spots once the covering was removed.

Wide receivers slipped on several pass plays, and running backs

repeatedly lost their footing before tacklers arrived.

"In the NFL, I've never played on a field that bad," Dolphins

kicker Jay Feely said. "But we knew that it would be like that

once it was re-sodded. We knew what the conditions would be like."

Late in the third quarter, Brandon Fields' punt from near the

Miami goal line came straight down and plugged in the drenched turf

like an arrow, burying itself several inches deep.

A few minutes later, Reed's 45-yard field goal attempt into a

swirling wind and rain fell far short. Reed had missed only once

previously in 19 tries this season, a 60-yarder in Denver.

Pittsburgh's opening drive ended with Roethlisberger being

intercepted by, of all players, Porter, who was cut by the Steelers

in March.

Porter's pick came along the Steelers' sideline, and he yelled

at their bench for several seconds after making the play.

"He kept trash talking the whole game, but we love him," Ward

said. "I told him, 'I know you're a Dolphin now, but you're a

Steeler for life.' I know he wanted to win this game more than


Game notes
The Steelers ended with 216 yards, with Willie Parker

running for 81 to go over 1,000 for the third straight season. ...

It was the lowest-scoring Monday night game since the prime time

games began in 1970. The previous low was Jacksonville's 9-0 win

over Pittsburgh last season. ... The Dolphins' Sept. 30 game at

Oakland was also delayed by lightning, for 30 minutes. ... The rain

fell on and off all game. ... The Steelers played a 0-0 tie against

Cincinnati in 1933, their first season. ... Steelers LT Marvel Smith was a late injury scratch.