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Dolphins survive last-second scare, down Steelers

Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Steelers nearly pulled off a miracle, but Antonio Brown barely stepped out of bounds on his way to the end zone on a final play that featured five laterals, and the Miami Dolphins escaped snowy Heinz Field with a 34-28 victory.

Charles Clay's gritty 12-yard touchdown catch with 2:53 remaining put the Dolphins in front and Caleb Sturgis added a 27-yard field goal for a six-point margin before the Steelers got one final chance.

They almost pulled it off in a finish that would have rivaled the Cal-Stanford collegiate game from 1982.

Facing 4th-and-9 from his own 21 with just a few seconds remaining, Ben Roethlisberger's pass was caught up the right sideline and the laterals began.

Roethlisberger wound up with the ball again and flung it toward Brown along the left sideline near the Pittsburgh 40. Brown eluded a couple of Miami defenders and took it all the way to the end zone for what would have been a stunning finish, but officials ruled he stepped on the sideline at the 13-yard line to end the game.

"I tried to make a play," said Brown. "I thought I had it clean."

The Dolphins appeared on their way to another narrow defeat, trailing by four late in the fourth quarter with the ball deep in their own end, but Daniel Thomas broke free for a 55-yard run to set up a first down at the Pittsburgh 16 and two plays later Ryan Tannehill hit Clay in the flat.

Clay shook off Pittsburgh defensive backs Troy Polamalu and Cortez Allen, kept his feet on the snowy field and raced the rest of the way to the end zone to give Miami a 31-28 edge.

The Steelers then turned the ball over on downs inside their own 20 when Roethlisberger's fourth-down run came up a yard short and the Dolphins tacked on Sturgis' field goal with 1:08 left to set up the wild finish.

"Not enough playmaking by us," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. "Obviously enough playmaking by them."

Tannehill completed 20-of-33 passes for 201 yards with three touchdowns and an interception that was returned for a Pittsburgh score. Clay caught seven passes for 98 yards with two scores and Thomas finished with 105 yards on 16 carries for Miami (7-6), which has won two straight for the first time since opening the season with three consecutive wins.

The Dolphins had their largest scoring output of the season and remained tied with Baltimore for the final AFC wild card spot. The Ravens own the tiebreaker based on a Week 5 win in Miami.

"We talked to the guys last night and told the guys this is the start of the fourth quarter of our season and that play in the fourth quarter was going to be important and that we were going to have to step up to make some plays and that's exactly what happened," said Dolphins coach Joe Philbin.

Roethlisberger threw three touchdown passes for the Steelers (5-8), who have lost two straight after a three-game winning streak and saw their already slim playoff hopes virtually dashed.

Pittsburgh trailed 17-7 after the Dolphins scored on their first possession of the second half, then took the lead with a pair of quick touchdowns.

Roethlisberger answered the Miami touchdown with 43-yard scoring strike to Brown just four plays after the kickoff and Polamalu picked off Tannehill two plays into the next Dolphins possession. Polamalu raced 19 yards for the go- ahead score, leaping over a group of players and sticking the ball over the plane of the goal line to give the Steelers a 21-17 lead.

Back came Miami, as a 40-yard pass to Clay on third down led to a 4-yard Tannehill touchdown pass to Brian Hartline. The play was initially ruled incomplete as Hartline made the catch in the front corner of the end zone and landed out of bounds, but it was overturned on a Miami challenge.

Pittsburgh marched right back down the field and again moved in front on the first play of the fourth quarter when Roethlisberger hit Jerricho Cotchery with a 16-yard touchdown pass to cap a 78-yard drive that included a pair of third-down conversions.

The next two Miami possessions ended in quick punts before Tannehill got the ball at his own 20 with 4 1/2 minutes remaining and got the big plays from Thomas and Clay.

Each team went three-and-out on its first possession in the snow, but the Steelers marched 74 yards on 12 plays with their second offensive series for a touchdown. They converted a trio of third downs on the seven-minute drive, including a 5-yard scoring strike to Emmanuel Sanders for the score.

The Dolphins answered with a 30-yard field goal from Sturgis. Tannehill did most of the damage on the eight-play set with his legs, rushing for eight yards to convert 3rd-and-3 and following with a career-long 48-yard run on a read option.

After a trade of punts, Cameron Wake forced a fumble from Roethlisberger and the Dolphins cashed in the short field to take the lead. Tannehill completed each of his three passes on the 31-yard drive, the first two to former Steeler Mike Wallace for 19 yards -- his only two catches of the game -- and the last a 6-yard toss to a wide open Clay for the touchdown.

Miami blocked a Steelers punt with 40 seconds left in the half and took over at the Pittsburgh 42. Sturgis soon after came on for a 52-yard field goal attempt toward the open end of the stadium that came up short and Polamalu was there to take it back. Polamalu found a wall of Dolphins and threw a lateral, but Steve McLendon was tackled without difficulty as time expired in the half.

Conditions improved after the break and the Dolphins took the second-half kickoff 80 yards for a score. Tannehill converted 3rd-and-1 with a 20-yard pass to Clay and also found Thomas out of the backfield for another first down on 3rd-and-4 inside the 10. Thomas scored from the four on the next play to increase the Miami lead to 17-7.

Game Notes

Roethlisberger surpassed Terry Bradshaw's club record of 212 career touchdown passes with his first-quarter toss to Sanders ... The Dolphins had allowed just one touchdown reception by a wide receiver entering the contest and surrendered three to the Steelers ... Miami running back Lamar Miller left the contest in the first half with a concussion ... The Dolphins have at least one takeaway in each game this season ... Polamalu notched his 32nd career interception and third touchdown ... Miami coach Joe Philbin is 6-for-6 on challenges this season ... The Dolphins snapped a five-game series slide.

12/08 19:01:58 ET

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Standings

 2013 American Football Conference Standings 
East Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-New England 12 4 0 .750 444 338 8-0 4-4 4-2 9-3
NY Jets 8 8 0 .500 290 387 6-2 2-6 3-3 5-7
Miami 8 8 0 .500 317 335 4-4 4-4 2-4 7-5
Buffalo 6 10 0 .375 339 388 4-4 2-6 3-3 5-7
 
North Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Cincinnati 11 5 0 .688 430 305 8-0 3-5 3-3 8-4
Pittsburgh 8 8 0 .500 379 370 5-3 3-5 4-2 6-6
Baltimore 8 8 0 .500 320 352 6-2 2-6 3-3 6-6
Cleveland 4 12 0 .250 308 406 3-5 1-7 2-4 3-9
 
South Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Indianapolis 11 5 0 .688 391 336 6-2 5-3 6-0 9-3
Tennessee 7 9 0 .438 362 381 3-5 4-4 2-4 6-6
Jacksonville 4 12 0 .250 247 449 1-7 3-5 3-3 4-8
Houston 2 14 0 .125 276 428 1-7 1-7 1-5 2-10
 
West Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Denver 13 3 0 .813 606 399 7-1 6-2 5-1 9-3
x-Kansas City 11 5 0 .688 430 305 5-3 6-2 2-4 7-5
x-San Diego 9 7 0 .563 396 348 5-3 4-4 4-2 6-6
Oakland 4 12 0 .250 322 453 3-5 1-7 1-5 4-8
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
 2013 National Football Conference Standings 
East Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Philadelphia 10 6 0 .625 442 382 4-4 6-2 4-2 9-3
Dallas 8 8 0 .500 439 432 5-3 3-5 5-1 7-5
NY Giants 7 9 0 .438 294 383 4-4 3-5 3-3 6-6
Washington 3 13 0 .188 334 478 2-6 1-7 0-6 1-11
 
North Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Green Bay 8 7 1 .531 417 428 4-3-1 4-4 3-2-1 6-5-1
Chicago 8 8 0 .500 445 478 5-3 3-5 2-4 4-8
Detroit 7 9 0 .438 395 376 4-4 3-5 4-2 6-6
Minnesota 5 10 1 .344 391 480 5-3 0-7-1 2-3-1 4-7-1
 
South Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Carolina 12 4 0 .750 366 241 7-1 5-3 5-1 9-3
x-New Orleans 11 5 0 .688 414 304 8-0 3-5 5-1 9-3
Atlanta 4 12 0 .250 353 443 3-5 1-7 1-5 3-9
Tampa Bay 4 12 0 .250 288 389 3-5 1-7 1-5 2-10
 
West Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Seattle 13 3 0 .813 417 231 7-1 6-2 4-2 10-2
x-San Francisco 12 4 0 .750 406 272 6-2 6-2 5-1 9-3
Arizona 10 6 0 .625 379 324 6-2 4-4 2-4 6-6
St. Louis 7 9 0 .438 348 364 5-3 2-6 1-5 4-8
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
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3:30pm Today
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Final
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MIA 7
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TEX 6
CWS 3
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LOS 8
ARI 6
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COL 3
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Final
SDP 3
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CLE
TOR
 
1:08pm Today
DET
ANA
 
1:10pm Today
NYM
ATL
 
1:10pm Today
MIA
SEA
 
1:35pm Today
PIT
MIL
 
1:35pm Today
WAS
STL
 
1:40pm Today
TAM
NYY
 
2:10pm Today
KAN
MIN
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
CIN
 
3:05pm Today
TEX
CWS
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
HOU
 
4:10pm Today
LOS
ARI
 
4:10pm Today
COL
PHI
 
4:10pm Today
SDP
SFG
 
7:05pm Tonight
BOS
BAL
 
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TOR 87
BRK 94
Final
LAC 105
GSW 109
Final
IND 93
ATL 101
Final
OKC 100
MEM 86
1:00pm Today
SAN
DAL
3:30pm Today
MIA
CHA
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
WAS
9:30pm Tonight
HOU
POR
Final
STL 4
CHI 3
Final
PIT 3
CLB 4
Final
COL 4
MIN 2
12:00pm Today
NYR
PHI
3:00pm Today
BOS
DET
7:00pm Tonight
MON
TAM
10:00pm Tonight
SJS
LOS
Final
NOR 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
NOR
DUR