Dolphins vs. Steelers: The Kicking Game

Dolphins Special-Teams
Kicking
Dan Carpenter: 8-10 FG’s, Long 53
Punting
Brandon Fields: 41.0 average, 11 IN20, Long 68, 2 punts blocked
Punt Return
Davone Bess: 5 returns, 12.8 yard average, Long 18
Kick Return
Nolan Carroll: 7 returns, 26.3 yard average, Long 37
Patrick Cobbs: 7 returns, 21.9 yard average, Long 30
Punt Coverage: 11 returns, 5.4 yard average, Long 19
Kickoff Coverage: 15 returns, 30.5 yard average, Long 103, 1 TD

Steelers Special-Teams
Kicking
Jeff Reed: 8-12 FG’s, Long 52
Punting
Daniel Sepulveda: 46.7 yard average, 6 IN20, Long 62
Punt Return
Antwaan Randle El: 9 returns, 3.4 yard average, Long 8
Kick Return
Antonio Brown: 7 returns, 31.3 yard average, Long 89, 1 TD
Emmanuel Sanders: 3 returns, 20.3 yard average, Long 23
Punt Coverage: 9 returns, 9.1 yard average, Long 38
Kickoff Coverage: 21 returns, 21.3 yard average, Long 37

Sunday was a great bounce back performance from this now Darren Rizi led unit. The solid returns from Carroll, the great coverage by the kickoff team, and the composure of Dan Carpenter to nail a 53-yard field goal before half and later kick the game-winner in overtime highlighted an encouraging first day on the job for the Dolphins’ new special-teams coach.

Still though, there was plenty to work on. The recently booted Bobby Carpenter missed a blocking assignment which almost cost the Dolphins big, as the punt was merely deflected but could have easily been blocked. Also, bad call or not, the holding penalty near the end of the half on Dan Carpenter’s 43-yard field goal try probably would have cost the Dolphins 3 points if they didn’t have a Pro Bowl kicker.

Against an elite team like the Steelers, you must play mistake free football to pull of an upset. Things like missed blocking assignments, missed tackles, and poor angles on special-teams would surely cost the Dolphins any chance of picking up their first home win of the year.

Unlike last week, the Dolphins will have to kick to a dangerous return man. Antonio Brown is boasting a scary 31.3 yards per kickoff return and has already taken one back to the house this season.

On the other side, I have a feeling Nolan Carroll is due for a big return any week now. He appeared inches away from breaking off a big return last week, but the Steelers have been pretty stout in kickoff coverage so far.

One thing is for sure, though, because it figures to be tough sleeding moving the ball on the Steelers’ dominate defense, the Dolphins could sure use a big play from their special-teams. Whether it be a big return or a blocked punt/kick, anything that helps in the field position battle or produces a score could make the difference in a game like this.
Edge: Steelers

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