MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins didn’t have to wait until Week 17 to punch their ticket to the NFL Playoffs.
They did however have to wait until the final games had been played before finding out where they’d be traveling on Wild Card weekend.
The Dolphins will head up to Pittsburgh for a battle with the heavily-favored Steelers in what will be Miami’s first playoff game since 2008.
The game will take place on Sunday afternoon, scheduled for a 1:05 p.m. kickoff at Heinz Field. It will air on CBS4.
“It’s one and done,” said Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. “The elevation of the height and sensitivity of the games will be through the roof. This is my third time in the playoffs and I just know the feeling going into particular games, very, very, intense so as you go and get ready for these games be prepared. The level of play definitely steps up.”
Miami played Pittsburgh earlier this season, coming away with a 30-15 victory that turned out to be the first game in a six-game win streak.
The Steelers (11-5) have played extremely well over the past two months of the season, closing out their schedule with seven straight wins en route to an AFC North title.
As for the Dolphins (10-6), they began the season 1-4 before winning nine of their next ten.
Needless to say, a lot has changed since the two teams met back in October.
“We’re a different team now,” said Dolphins coach Adam Gase. “They’re a different team. Both of us have different players. I don’t know how much our rosters really match up. If you look at our roster at that time and our roster now and the same thing for them, that’s what makes this part of the season interesting.”
Miami is hoping to have several injured players back in the lineup.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Jelani Jenkins have all missed time over the past few weeks.
Maxwell and Jenkins are viewed as guys that will likely suit up, barring any setbacks this week.
Tannehill’s status won’t be known until later in the week. He has been working with trainers to build up strength in his injured left knee after suffering a sprained ACL and MCL on December 11th.
His cast came off last week and he was seen walking around on the practice field.
“I’m going to make the call on [Tannehill’s status],” said Gase. “If I don’t feel comfortable with it, then Matt [Moore] will stay the starting quarterback. I need to get a lot of information: I have to see him practice and I have to see him move around and I have to feel really good about it. I’m not going to jeopardize his career by throwing him out there and then extending this thing longer than what it already is. I’m going to make sure that the right decision is made.”
A big step in the right direction would be for Tannehill to take part in a team practice, which won’t happen until at least Tuesday or Wednesday.
“I’ll have to ask the doctor where he’s at,” Gase said. “I don’t even know where he’s at right now. I see him walking around, so I don’t know what that means.”
Gase will meet with team doctors on Monday to get a report on Tannehill’s knee.
If all goes well, the next step would be seeing what the fifth year quarterback can do on the field.
Should Tannehill look like he can move around well and protect himself while delivering the football, Gase will have a decision to make.