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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
game.

They trudged through the quagmire of Heinz Field, nearly going
all night without scoring. Nearly.

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,
1943.

"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
Ward.

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
Pittsburgh.

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
scheduled.

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
game.

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
anything."

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.