Ben Roethlisberger connected for three touchdowns and Jeff Reed kicked three field goals, as the Pittsburgh Steelers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 30-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins at Land Shark Stadium. Both teams entered the contest with a slim chance of reaching the playoffs, each needing a win and some help.
The Steelers (9-7) are still barely breathing heading into later action on Sunday, but now need losses by Baltimore, Denver and the New York Jets to reach the postseason for a chance to defend their Super Bowl title.
Pittsburgh was the last defending Super Bowl champion to miss the playoffs the following year, finishing 8-8 in 2006 after winning the title following the 2005 campaign. Miami (7-9) had even slimmer hopes, needing a win and losses by four teams to make the playoffs for a second time in as many seasons under Tony Sparano. Instead, the defending AFC East champs finished with a losing record for the third time in the past four years.
The Dolphins lost a pair of quarterbacks to injury during the game. Starter Chad Henne remained on the sideline to start the second half after suffering an eye injury and watched as Pat White took a devastating helmet-to-helmet hit from Pittsburgh cornerback Ike Taylor late in the third quarter. White had to be carted to the locker room and was seen moving his hands. Miami still nearly rallied with Tyler Thigpen at the helm, roaring back from a 27-10 deficit in the fourth quarter to pull within three before an interception near the Pittsburgh end zone thwarted the effort.