Dolphins vs. Steelers: Fade to Black

It was a microcosm of an entire season. As with every game, the Miami Dolphins were kicked in the teeth while they fought tooth and nail to make a game of it but falling short in the end. Even after losing both their first- and second-string quarterbacks, the Fins were still within a field goal of tying a game they were once down by 17 in the fourth quarter.

Miami lost starting quarterback Chad Henne for the game when he was poked in the eye, which is appropriate because, throughout the season, this offense sometimes resembled a Three Stooges episode. And then there was Pat White's scary helmet-to-helmet collision with Steelers corner Ike Taylor. White was knocked out for a while and was on the ground for a full eight minutes before showing movement in his arms and legs and being carted off the field.

So the Dolphins turned to third-string quarterback Tyler Thigpen. And

that's when shit got funky. Thigpen came in and led the

Dolphins, down 27-10, to two touchdown-scoring drives, including a 33-yard strike to

Davone Bess. For a guy who had been relegated to the scout team for

pretty much his entire time with Miami this season, Thigpen brought a

crapload of excitement (he was also able to silence -- at least for a

little while -- the throng of transplanted Yinzers in

attendance, which was a nice bonus).

But as the old adage goes, live by the Thigpen, die by the

Thigpen*. Just as much as he was responsible for

Miami's improbable comeback, the Dolphins' third-stringer was also at

the helm of their ultimate demise. With momentum at their backs, the

Dolphin defense recovered a Ben Roethlisberger fumble at the Miami 13.

With the crowd in a frenzy and the Fins with an excellent chance to

take the lead or tie the game, Thigpen threw the mother of all

ill-advised passes right into the teeth of Steelers double-coverage.

Pittsburgh's Ryan Clark intercepted the pass at the two-yard-line and consequently

ended all hopes of a miracle comeback. The Steelers would go on to win


It seemed only yesterday the Dolphins were on the verge of earning a

playoff spot, possibly even winning the division. There was talk of

this team making some noise in the playoffs, talk of how this was a

team no one wanted to face in the postseason.

Today, not so much. The Dolphins ended the season just as they began it -- losing three straight games. The result: a 7-9 record and the 12th

pick in April's NFL Draft. It was pretty much what the experts expected

to happen to the Dolphins this season. It's a young team with plenty of

holes yet to fill, playing in a tough division and up against the

toughest schedule in the league. They are what they said they are.

Still doesn't take away the huge piles of suck of yet another

disappointing end.

*Not an actual adage.

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Chris Joseph