MIAMI (AP) -- Unfazed by torrential rain, the Pittsburgh Steelers
played smashmouth defense befitting their muddy, sodden uniforms.
Pittsburgh forced four turnovers, made a key fourth-down stop
and beat the hapless Miami Dolphins 13-3 Sunday night.
Several first-half downpours caused by the remnants of Hurricane
Jeanne turned out to be Steelers weather, and Pittsburgh improved
"The weather in the first half was not conducive to doing
anything," coach Bill Cowher said. "We couldn't even hold the
ball. Both teams couldn't throw it. But that's the kind of football
The Dolphins, who have scored 23 points in three games, fell to
0-3 for the first time since 1969, the year before Don Shula became
"We've got to score some points," coach Dave Wannstedt said.
"Let's get right down to the bottom line. We've just got to find a
way to make more plays."
Steelers rookie Ben Roethlisberger, making his first NFL start,
had his first pass intercepted but otherwise avoided costly
mistakes despite the slippery ball and footing. He finished
12-of-22 for 163 yards and one score.
"It wasn't pretty at times, but we got the win,"
Hines Ward made a diving catch of a pass from Roethlisberger for
a 7-yard touchdown. Jeff Reed hit field goals of 40 and 51 yards,
the latter coming after the Steelers stopped A.J. Feeley on a
fourth-down quarterback sneak at midfield.
Announced attendance was 72,225, but with Florida just beginning
to recover from its latest hurricane, the actual crowd was about
30,000. Officials decided Saturday to push the starting time back
7½ hours to avoid Hurricane Jeanne, and heavy rain fell at times.
The showers left standing water in the baseball infield, which
made footing especially treacherous on that part of the field. The
start of the second half was delayed so the grounds crew could
apply additional bags of dirt.
"That was the worst weather I ever played in," Ward said.
The Steelers allowed just 169 yards and bruised more than just
the Dolphins' pride. A jarring tackle by Chris Hope sent running
back Lamar Gordon from the game with an injured left shoulder, and
his replacement, Leonard Henry, was knocked backward by a big hit
from James Farrior.
Even before the heaviest rain, the Dolphins committed three
turnovers on their first seven plays. The crowd was small but
vocal, booing Feeley, the rest of the Dolphins' offense and the
"They ought to boo us the whole time," said linebacker Zach
Thomas, directing his comments at the entire team. "We're not
making big plays. Why would you pay for a ticket?"
Miami's best drive of the night covered 44 yards, setting up a
34-yard field goal by Olindo Mare with 13:25 left to make the score
6-3. But Roethlisberger drove the Steelers 61 yards for the only
touchdown with six minutes left, and Farrior recovered a fumble by
Feeley to clinch the win.
Feeley, under constant pressure, went 13-for-27 for 137 yards
with two interceptions, one fumble lost and three sacks.
"You have to adjust on the move because of the weather,"
Feeley said. "It took us out of what we wanted to do."
Pittsburgh's Plaxico Burress made a circus catch as he fell for
a 42-yard gain to set up the first score, a 40-yard field goal by
Trailing 3-0 early in the second half, Wannstedt gambled by
going for it on fourth-and-1 at the Miami 47, and Feeley was
stopped for no gain on a sneak. Six plays later, Reed made a
51-yard field goal.
"It was fourth down and two inches," Wannstedt said. "We
can't make two inches on a quarterback sneak? You've got to be
kidding me. That's embarrassing. You ought to be able to fall down
and make two inches."
^Notes:@ The last rookie QB to beat the Dolphins was New England's
Drew Bledsoe in 1994. ... Third-string Steelers RB Verron Haynes
carried seven times for 34 yards. "He was the best mudder,"
Cowher said. ... Dolphins P Matt Turk punted six times, giving him
21 punts in three games. ... The Dolphins had five fumbles, giving
them 11 this season.
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