Tim Benz: How awful ‘Mud Bowl’ Dolphins compare to awful team set to face Steelers | TribLIVE.com
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Tim Benz: How awful ‘Mud Bowl’ Dolphins compare to awful team set to face Steelers

Tim Benz
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CHRISTOPHER HORNER | TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward gets a face full of mud, as he eludes Miami’s Cameron Worrell and Jason Taylor during the second quarter on Monday, Nov. 26, 2007 at Heinz Field.

This Miami Dolphins team the Pittsburgh Steelers will face Monday night is bad.

Really bad.

Every bit as worthy of being 0-6 bad as you might assume.

Offensively, the Dolphins are tied for last with the New York Jets in the NFL in points per game (10.5). They are 31st in the league in yards per game (258.7). On a per game basis, they rank 31th in time of possession (26:50), 31st in rushing yards (66.7) and 30th in passing yards (192).

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Defensively, the Dolphins allow 35.2 points per game, worst in the NFL. Their 417.3 yards allowed per game is 30th in the league. Their 160.8 yards allowed per game on the ground is 31st in the league. Their 9.4 passing yards allowed per play is at the bottom of the rankings.

Over the first four weeks, Miami was outscored 163-26.

Go ahead. Find a silver lining in that mess.

Oh, their minus -11 turnover margin is the worst in the game, too.

At least they have been better the last two outings. Miami lost by only a point (17-16) to the Washington Redskins two weeks ago. And the Buffalo Bills needed a late onside-kick return for a touchdown for a 31-21 victory over the Fins on Sunday.

And the Dolphins are only 0-6.

I say “only” because the last time Miami visited Heinz Field for a “Monday Night Football” affair in 2007, they began the evening 0-10.

You remember that game, don’t you?

That’s right. The infamous mud-punt game that the Steelers managed to “win” 3-0.

That edition of the Dolphins may have been even worse than this year’s club. It ended the year 1-15 with an AFC worst minus-170 point differential.

On defense, the team ranked 30th or worse in points allowed, rushing yards and rushing yards per attempt. Offensively, it was 26th or worse in points, passing yards, passing touchdowns, pass yards per attempt and rushing attempts.

Wanna compare players and coaches of the current Dolphins to the ones that rolled into the North Shore that night?

OK. I don’t know what the future holds for current first-year head coach Brian Flores. But Cam Cameron rightfully only lasted one year.

I’ll take current Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick over that night’s starter, John Beck, any day.

Marty Booker was the top receiver that evening, four years removed from his only Pro Bowl season. Preston Williams or DeVante Parker on this year’s squad are scarier in my book.

That was Ricky Williams’ season debut after his marijuana reinstatement. He rushed six times for 15 yards, tore a pectoral muscle on a tackle from Lawrence Timmons and went on injured reserve. Gimme Kenyon Drake over that version of Williams all day.

Defensively, as outlined above, that team was no better than this one. Although they did have Joey Porter, a year before he went off for a career-high 17.5 sacks in 2008.

He intercepted Ben Roethlisberger that glorious evening, just eight months after getting cut by Mike Tomlin in his first season as coach.

So are these Dolphins terrible? Yes. Yes, they are.

Will it take weather and turf conditions as dreadful as the ones we saw that night to beat the Steelers? Maybe. On the Weather.com 10-day forecast, we’re looking at a pedestrian 45 degrees, partly cloudy with a 20% chance of rain.

But this motley Miami bunch still may be better than the dreadful unit that nearly upset Tomlin’s troops in 2007 — a team who ended up going 10-6 and winning the AFC North that year.

As we all know, when Tomlin’s teams are good, they have a tendency to play down to the level of competition. Remember those losses to the Broncos and Raiders last year, plus the season-opening tie in Cleveland.

And at least 15 other examples before that.

So what happens when Tomlin’s team isn’t any good either? Can a Tomlin team actually play down to its level of competition when it is 2-4, with a backup quarterback in charge?

My bet is yes. But my bet is the Steelers find a way to win ugly anyway. Rain or shine.

It may just be 2-0 this time, though.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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