Three Takeaways | John Congemi Breaks Down Dolphins at Steelers

1) Fast Start By Fins

It seemed like everything was going the Dolphins way early against the Steelers. Cornerback Xavien Howard snagged his first interception of the season on Pittsburgh’s first offensive series of the game. It had been 39 drives since Miami’s defense forced a turnover and the offense wasted little time turning it into points. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 5-yard toss to Albert Wilson gave the Dolphins the early lead. The defense then forced a turnover on downs when nickel corner Jomal Wiltz broke up a fourth down pass and gave the Miami offense instant field position at their own 37 yard line. Fitz and company marched 11 plays and took six minutes off of the clock when the veteran quarterback found Allen Hurns on the 12-yard scoring play. Fitzpatrick’s numbers after the first quarter were eight of 11 for 82 yards and two touchdowns. The score stood at 14-0, and it felt like this would be the night Miami finally broke through in the win column. It was the start everyone was waiting for but unfortunately it wasn’t sustainable into the second half.

2) Questionable Decision Before Halftime

The Dolphins executed on both sides of the ball and dominated the Steelers for 28 of the 30 minutes in the first half. Midway through the second quarter, the Steelers offense only managed a total of 54 yards of offense, and it looked like Miami would head to halftime with a 14-3 or at worst a 14-6 lead heading into the third quarter. A decision was made after a Dolphins time out on 3rd and 22 and under a minute remaining before halftime to send eight pass rusher, leaving just three defenders in soft pass coverage. It was an all-out blitz that had worked earlier in the game, but the situation here didn’t necessarily dictate this type of aggressive defense. This decision backfired horribly when Pittsburgh wide out Diontae Johnson ran a one step quick slant with Xavien Howard at least 12 to 15 yards away in man to man coverage. The all out blitz never effected the quick throw by Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph, and their wasn’t anything but green grass for Johnson as he took the simple completion and ran 45 yards for the score. All the Dolphins defense needed to do was keep the ball in-front of them and make a tackle. This would have forced a fourth down try, or a long field goal attempt. Either way the emotion and momentum wouldn’t have swung so drastically. The play was the turning point in the game for the Steelers and completely devastated the momentum that Miami had built in the first half.

3) Disappointing Second Half

Somehow this team needs to figure out how to come out after halftime and execute in the third quarter. The Dolphins offense hasn’t scored a touchdown all season in the third quarter and it seems opposing teams execute and stack one explosive play one on top of another. Losing the turnover margin is never a positive sign, but that stat wasn’t what decided the outcome of the game. Opposing teams just seem to make more chunk yardage plays when the situation presents itself. The Dolphins wasted a well played first half against an average NFL team in the Steelers because they couldn’t sustain the simple execution of the first half.

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