Dolphins head to Heinz Field to take on the Steelers

Tannehill Returns to Practice

Ryan Tannehill returned to limited practice this week just in time for the playoffs.  While he will not play in the Wild Card round against the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend, it could open the door for him to return for the divisional round of the playoffs if the Dolphins can take care of the Steelers once again.  Miami began their amazing 9-1 run against these very Steelers and the team is very confident they will be moving on with Matt Moore under Center.

Tickets for the game are still selling at a brisk pace and the home field Steelers have a great advantage in the weather.  It has been balmy in Florida all week while Pittsburgh is freezing.  The Dolphins have gone so far as to freeze footballs for Kicker Andrew Franks.

“They definitely become hard in the colder weather,” Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi said. “But there’s only so much you can do in this kind of weather to practice. We actually put balls in the freezer, believe it or not. But you bring them out and five minutes later they’ve thawed out.”

The game kicks off at Sunday at Noon.  Plenty of great seats and affordable tickets are still available so grab yours today!

 

When an Athlete Quits, Repercussions Linger

So no matter how many times Santonio Holmes has been arrested or how many times he has been disciplined by a coach, being accused of quitting on in their season-ending game on Sunday has raced to the top of his résumé of character faults. Quitting hurts one’s reputation in uniquely wounding ways — calling into question toughness, loyalty and athletic honor.

“Professional athletes always talk about the importance of winning championships and how it’s the biggest thing, but you sort of have to wonder if that’s really the case,” said , a sports psychologist in Columbus, Ohio, who works with a range of athletes. “You put a ring on one side and a $100 million contract on the other, and which is more important? We’d all like to believe the players would die for their team, but in reality, they’re not all like that.”

Occasionally, the quitter can overcome the stigma. Yankees catcher last May when he saw that Manager Joe Girardi had dropped him to ninth in the batting order, but by the end of the season, Posada was given a standing ovation by Yankees fans. Duran was eventually embraced again in his native Panama as his career continued. Pippen made the Hall of Fame without an “I quit on my team” asterisk, although having six N.B.A. titles certainly helped.

Holmes, for his part, does have a victory and a most valuable player trophy from it. But the Steelers also shipped the talented wide receiver out of Pittsburgh only one season after that Super Bowl triumph — and his arrest record grew to include domestic violence, assault and possession. The for a modest draft pick.

“He had off-the-field problems, but when he was with Pittsburgh, he was a part of a Super Bowl team and you never saw the finger-pointing, the me-first attitude,” said Heath Evans, a former N.F.L. fullback who is an analyst for the NFL Network. “But he gets to New York and gets made a captain and does all the things a captain should never do. It’s the finger-pointing and putting himself before the team that will drive you nuts.”

His redemption effort, then, may take more time than it has for most. But Holmes has plenty of varied company.

The quitter label is one that is still trying to shake, stemming from his uninterested performance in the second round of the N.B.A. playoffs between in 2010. In fact, when James bolted Cleveland to join the Miami Heat, the strongest insult the Cavaliers’ owner, Dan Gilbert, could lob at him was that he quit in several playoff series.

Ricky Williams drew the ire of the when he retired just days before training camp in 2004, leaving them in the lurch at running back. He returned to the league, but his reliability was openly questioned. Randy Moss finally ran out of teams willing to put up with him this season after Minnesota and New England decided he had quit on their clubs.

The British marathon runner Paula Radcliffe appalled her country by dropping out of the 2004 Olympic marathon after 23 miles. Despite all her titles and records, she did not redeem herself in the eyes of her country until she limped through the 2008 Olympic race despite an injury. Even obscure athletes can forge a reputation by giving up, the best example being for calling an umpire corrupt and walking off the court at Wimbledon in 1995.

The French national soccer team added to the annals of quitting when the entire team refused to train at the 2010 World Cup over a spat with the team’s manager, drawing international disdain and seething disgust from French fans. John Daly contributed a colorful chapter when he walked out midround at the Australian Open last November after hitting seven balls into the water on one hole.

In professional team sports, though, quitting comes with major reputational repercussions, and fans are often slow to forgive.

“Part of the problem with athletes at that level is, there isn’t a carrot and stick for those players,” Stankovich said. “For guys like Holmes, he’s going to find a home somewhere. The guy’s going to get paid. It would never happen for a fringe player, but guys at that level, teams are willing to take the chance on him. There are no repercussions.”

Reputations, however, do not heal so easily.

Steelers Beat Dolphins With Help of Fumble Review

If Tomlin was trying to speed the ’ escape from Miami, he couldn’t be blamed. He probably did not want to give officials any more time to reconsider a replay decision that was so baffling that even the Steelers’ chairman, , said he had never seen anything like it in all his years in football. Quarterback fumbled just before he crossed the goal line, officials ruled, but they could not clearly determine who recovered, even though it looked very much as if the Dolphins had.

“We’ll take it and exit stage left,” Tomlin said.

Good thinking. The victory makes the Steelers 5-1 and starts their three-game road trip with a critical A.F.C. victory.

Even after holding the Dolphins to two field goals after two early turnovers, the Steelers were one very weird replay from a loss. They were trailing, 22-20, with less than three minutes to play when Roethlisberger, on third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, lined up in the shotgun and kept the ball on a designed run.

He dived for the goal line with the ball in his right hand. The Dolphins’ Chris Clemons dived at Roethlisberger, grazing his elbow and setting the ball loose inches from the goal line. A scrum developed in the end zone, with Roethlisberger, Clemons and a host of others grasping for the ball.

That was where the trouble began.

Officials had already signaled a touchdown. Roethlisberger said later that he had control of the ball under the pile until a member of the officiating crew patted him on the back and told him it was a touchdown. That, Roethlisberger said, is when he let go.

In the meantime, the Dolphins claimed they had recovered. Coach Tony Sparano requested a replay. And although at least one angle showed that Roethlisberger clearly did not have control when he crossed the goal line, the official Gene Steratore said it was not clear that the defense had possession of the ball before the scrum developed, a critical part of the ruling.

“In order to overturn this and give another team the football, I have to have clear video evidence of the team recovering the fumble,” Steratore said, according to a pool report. “We did have a fumble, but we did not have video evidence and a confirmation on who recovered the football. But we could not award the defense in this situation the football because we don’t have video evidence of the defense recovering the ball.”

And why wasn’t it clear?

“It is a pile of bodies in there and you don’t have a clear recovery,” Steratore said.

Tomlin said: “I don’t know what the definition of a scrum is. But I’ll take it.”

The end result: Jeff Reed kicked an 18-yard field goal to give Pittsburgh the lead. Then the defense, which had kept the Steelers alive with the two early holds, took over.

The Dolphins, who had passed their way into the game by keeping extra players in to protect Chad Henne from the Steelers’ blitzes, could not get a first down, and the game was over.

The loss dropped the Dolphins to 3-3, with all of their losses coming at home, where the early-season heat usually favors them.

“I’m not going to get into what I think,” Sparano said. “What I think is that at the end of the day … I mean, it was a big play in the game, but it shouldn’t have come down to that.”

That is little comfort for the Dolphins, who 10 years ago were called out of the locker room in Foxborough, Mass., as they were celebrating winning the A.F.C. East, after officials overturned a blown call on a fumble at the end of the game and put a few seconds back on the clock. Thirty-five minutes later, play resumed for one play, with some people on the sidelines in bathrobes to see Miami complete the victory. No wonder Tomlin was in such a rush.

Roethlisberger is undefeated in two games since returning from his four-game suspension, this time completing 19 of 27 passes for 302 yards and 2 touchdowns. That included one 43-yard completion to on third-and-16 after Roethlisberger was flushed out of the pocket and threw a perfect touch pass while falling backward.

Still, the Steelers, who face the on Sunday, gave up a season high in points, and their defense had a significant loss when end Aaron Smith tore a triceps muscle, ending his season.

But at least the Steelers do not have to worry about the mind-set of linebacker James Harrison, who was at the center of last week’s debate over hits to the head; he was fined $75,000 for a hit and briefly contemplated retirement. Harrison said that he had thought about the controversy during the week but that he was not trying to prove a point with his play.

Harrison did say, however, that he held up on one play when Ronnie Brown was coming across the middle. Harrison said he pulled up because he saw Brown go into a slide. Harrison said if he had gone after Brown as he normally would have, he probably would have hit him high. Instead, Larry Foote made the tackle.

“I didn’t want to jump in there on that play because next time they’ll probably suspend me,” Harrison said. “Other than that, it didn’t change much. I really didn’t have to change too much.”

Nor, it seems, will the Steelers.