Final

Steelers 13

(2-1, 1-1 away)

Dolphins 3

(0-3, 0-2 home)

8:30 PM ET, September 26, 2004

 

1 2 3 4 T
PIT 3 0 3 713
MIA 0 0 0 33

Fourth-down stop gives Pittsburgh momentum

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 to 2-1.

"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 I love."

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 coach.

"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," Roethlisberger said.

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 play-calling.

"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 Reed.

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Scoring Summary

THIRD QUARTERPITMIA
pitFG8:20Jeff Reed 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 6 plays, 14 yds, 2:00
60
FIRST QUARTERPITMIA
pitFG8:20Jeff Reed 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 8 plays, 58 yds, 4:40
30
FOURTH QUARTERPITMIA
pitTD6:30Touchdown
Drive info: 7 plays, 36 yds, 4:24
123
pit6:16
Drive info: 7 plays, 36 yds, 4:24
133
miaFG13:30Olindo Mare 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 13 plays, 45 yds, 5:40
63