Washington (AFP) – Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes to Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell ran for two touchdowns Sunday as the Pittsburgh Steelers ripped Miami 30-12 to advance in the NFL playoffs.
Bell rushed for a Steelers’ single-game playoff record 167 yards on 29 carries as Pittsburgh booked a second-round matchup next Sunday at Kansas City.
The result also sent the Houston Texans to NFL season-wins leader New England next Saturday in the other American Conference contest.
Green Bay will host the New York Giants later in the final first-round playoff game with the winner to visit Dallas next Sunday. Atlanta entertains Seattle next Saturday in the other National Conference contest.
Bitter cold of 17 degrees F (minus-8 C) and brisk wind greeted teams in Pittsburgh, a far cry from the warm conditions in October in Miami when the Dolphins beat Pittsburgh 30-15 in a regular-season game.
The Steelers opened the scoring only 2:45 into the game as Miami native Brown took a short pass from Roethlisberger and raced down the left sideline into the end zone to complete to 50-yard scoring play and give Pittsburgh a 7-0 edge.
Brown scored again with just 8:10 elapsed, cutting right to the middle of the field to grab a throw from “Big Ben” and then outracing defenders to the end zone to complete a 62-yard touchdown play and give the Steelers a 14-0 lead.
Miami’s Andrew Franks kicked a 38-yard field goal but Pittsburgh answered with Bell’s 1-yard touchdown run capping a 10-play, 83-yard march.
The Steelers took a 20-3 advantage despite a missed conversion kick, although Franks added a 47-yard field goal to trim Pittsburgh’s lead.
Roethlisberger, who connected on 13 of 18 passes for 197 yards, completed his first 11 passes to seven different receivers before a deflected toss was intercepted by Miami’s Michael Thomas to end Pittsburgh’s final first-half drive.
The Dolphins then marched to the Steelers’ 8-yard line but Pittsburgh’s James Harrison forced a fumble by Miami quarterback Matt Moore and Stephon Tuitt recovered for the Steelers just before half-time.
Miami drove to open the second half but Mike Mitchell forced another Moore fumble and L.T. Walton recovered for Pittsburgh, setting up Chris Boswell’s 34-yard field goal that put the Steelers ahead 23-6.
Pittsburgh’s Ryan Shazier intercepted Moore’s next pass and that led to an 8-yard Bell touchdown run to boost Pittsburgh’s lead to 30-6.
Bell broke the old Steeler one-game playoff rushing mark of 158 yards by Franco Harris against Minnesota in the 1975 Super Bowl.
Moore flipped a 4-yard touchdown pass to Damien Williams with 5:57 remaining, but missed on a two-point conversion throw to produce the final margin.