It had been a long time since the Pittsburgh Steelers last set foot on a football field. That was back in Week 6 when the team, quarterbacked by Devlin Hodges, traveled to the west coast and got the best of the Los Angeles Chargers. In Week 8 it was the Miami Dolphins invading Heinz Field looking for their first win of the season, and Mason Rudolph under center for the black-and-gold.
The Steelers won the opening coin toss, and elected to defer their possession to the second half. After the Pittsburgh defense forced a three-and-out, Mason Rudolph’s first pass of the game was intercepted by Xavien Howard. The turnover gave the Dolphins the ball at the Pittsburgh 27 yard line, and three plays later Ryan Fitzpatrick turned the turnover into a touchdown pass to Albert Wilson to make the score 7-0 with 10:55 left in the quarter.
Needing a response, the Steelers got a boost on the first play of their next drive when James Conner broke off a 25-yard run behind Roosevelt Nix, but the drive wouldn’t much further than that and ended in a turnover on downs when Rudolph threw behind James Washington on 4th down.
Fitzpatrick took the next possession and drove down the field with relative ease and it was an Allen Hurns touchdown reception which gave the Dolphins a 14-0 lead, still in the first quarter of the game.
The second quarter saw nothing but two teams punting the ball back and forth until the Steelers were backed up in their own end, facing a third down and 11, and Rudolph hit Diontae Johnson for a first down. That one play sparked a drive which also included a big catch down the sideline by JuJu Smith-Schuster putting the Steelers’ offense in Miami territory for the first time in the game. The drive would stall and the Steelers settled for a 42-yard field goal to make the score 14-3 with 2:45 left in the half.
Just when you thought the Dolphins would just ice out the time left in the half, Fitzpatrick tried to thread the needle over the middle, and the tipped ball went into the awaiting arms of Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Rudolph and the Steelers offense had just over a minute left in the half with two timeouts remaining, and just when you thought the Steelers had the big play they had been needing, a deep pass to Diontae Johnson down the sideline, the play was flagged for offensive pass interference. Despite being reviewed, the call was upheld and had the team facing a 3rd and 22. Rudolph hit Diontae Johnson in stride and he got into the endzone to make the score 14-10 heading into halftime.
To start the second half the Steelers received the football, and behind some strong running by James Conner were able to move the ball into Miami territory. However, the Steelers had to settle for a 54-yard Chris Boswell field goal attempt that came up short.
Miami had tremendous field position to start their opening drive of the second half, but on third and ten it was another Fitzpatrick to Fitzpatrick pass, but Ryan threw it to Minkah for the former Dolphins’ second interception of the game.
In football, points off turnovers are huge, and Mason Rudolph delivered his best performance of the night on a drive that took up nearly 8 minutes and ended with a nice throw to JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 26 yard score.
The Boswell point after gave the Steelers their first lead of the night, making the score 17-14 with 3:16 left in the third quarter.
The Dolphins were on the move in an attempt to answer the Steelers’ score, but on a 4th and 1 it looked as if Ryan Fitzpatrick had scrambled his way to a first down. Mike Tomlin challenged the spot, and was successful, giving the Steelers the ball after a turnover on downs.
What happened next was a delightful change of pace when the Steelers’ defense gave the ball back to the offense with an extra possession. The offense actually turned the turnover into points. This time it was Rudolph hitting several huge third down plays, but the drive was capped off by a nifty 9 yard touchdown run.
The Boswell point after was good, making the score 24-14 with 12:01 left in regulation.
If the Steelers took a while to wake up, they certainly woke up in the second half defensively. On the ensuing Miami drive Mike Hilton forced a fumble when he trailed Mark Walton causing the loose ball, and Steven Nelson recovered. It marked the third takeaway of the night for the Steelers.
A three-and-out didn’t result in points for the Steelers, but after Jordan Berry punted the football away it was T.J. Watt who gave the ball right back to the offense after his strip sack, and fumble recovery for the team’s 4th turnover of the game.
After two short passes and a run, the Steelers settled for a Chris Boswell 41 yard field goal to make the score 27-14 with 5:32 remaining in regulation.
Both teams would exchange possessions before the 27-14 score would become final. The win moves the Steelers’ record to 3-4 on the season as they prepare for a home game against the Indianapolis Colts on a short week in Week 9. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold moving into next week’s action!