Ben Roethlisberger finally had both Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell in a playoff game for the first time, and he took advantage of it.
Brown took a screen pass 52 yards for the game’s opening score, then burst past the Miami secondary for a 62 yard touchdown less than six minutes later.Just like that, the Steelers were up 14-0. Miami’s battered back-up quarterback and defenders could not stop Pittsburgh on Sunday from that point, as the Steelers scored touchdowns on their first three drives and never looked back, winning the AFC Wild Card game 30-12.
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Bell had to watch his team lose in January the last two seasons, missing out due to injuries. However, he was finally able make an impact in a playoff game, and did so in notable fashion against Miami. All he did in his postseason debut was break Hall of Famer Franco Harris’ team mark for yards rushing (158) in a playoff game by the end of the third quarter. Bell finished with 29 carries for 167 yards and two scores.
Winners of eight straight, the Steelers won their 35th career postseason game, breaking the all-time record.
Our 35 playoff victories are the most in NFL history. pic.twitter.com/DYLgpfVITe
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 9, 2017
The Dolphins had won nine of their last 11 games, and made the playoffs despite starting the season (1-4).Quarterback Ryan Tannehill went down Week 14 and Matt Moore led the team into the postseason.
Moore struggled to do anything on Sunday, finishing 29-36 for 289 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Moore won’t be remembered for any of his completions, or even his interception, but for the hit he took from Bud Dupree early in the second quarter. Down 20-3, Moore was the victim of a helmet-to-helmet hit by the Pittsburgh defender. Dupree was flagged for roughing the passer, but Miami gained no yards on the play because running back Jay Ajayi was tagged with unsportsmanlike conduct after the play.
Moore missed only one play, but was clearly not 100% for the remainder of the contest.
— USA TODAY Sports (@USATODAYsports) January 8, 2017
Pittsburgh (12-5) will travel to Kansas City to take on the AFC West champion Chiefs (12-4). That game is set for Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
The two teams faced off in Week 4, when the Steelers won at home 43-14 led by Big Ben’s 5 touchdown passes.
Bell ran for 144 yards on 18 carries, and Brown had two touchdowns to boot. Kansas City was down 36-0 before adding two fourth quarter TDs.
Houston (10-7) took care of Oakland’s backup QB Connor Cook with a 27-14 win. Now they face Tom Brady.
New England (14-2) is an early two touchdown favorite over the Texans and Brock Osweiler. The two teams faced each other on Thursday Night Football earlier in the year, but Brady was suspended and third-string QB Jacoby Brissett still led New England to a 27-0 win.
This AFC semifinal will take place Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. in Foxboro, Mass.
Brady is a MVP candidate, with a 28-2 TD-INT ratio and a career-high 67% completion percentage. He has a chance to tie and possibly pass Joe Montana for the most postseason games with 3+ touchdown passes.
Most Playoff Gms w/ 3 Pass TD – Super Bowl Era
Joe Montana 9
Tom Brady 8
Aaron Rodgers 6
Brett Favre 6
Peyton Manning 6
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 9, 2017