The Pittsburgh Steelers dug themselves into quite a hole early on in Monday night’s victory over the Miami Dolphins, but they started climbing out of it by the second quarter. While they initially stalled out and had to settle for a field goal, they were able to get a touchdown on the books just before halftime to make it 14-10.
That play came under very questionable circumstances, at least in the sense that Dolphins head coach Brian Flores was peppered with questions after the game about what he could have been thinking. Miami had the Steelers backed up to the 45-yard line, facing third and 20, when he decided to send an eight-man blitz, leaving three men in coverage against three players running routes.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 29, 2019
The Steelers were able to handle the eight-man rush well enough for Mason Rudolph to get the throw out to rookie Diontae Johnson, winning on a slant route and racing into the end zone from 45 yards out for the score. Flores was grilled during and after the game for that call, which looked like a punt return.
“The guys did a good job defensively getting pressure on ‘em”, he said of the play after the game. “We wanted to stay with it. I don’t have any regrets on the call. They made a play, just like we had made some plays prior to that defensively. We just move on”.
The Dolphins did have a 14-10 lead even after that play, and were able to prevent the Steelers from scoring on the opening drive of the second half, so he’s right about it not deciding the game, but it was an important momentum swing. That didn’t stop the questions about his rationale from continuing to come in.
“I wanted to be aggressive”, he responded later on. “You can second-guess a lot of calls, I’m not going to second-guess that one. I think we’ve had success with the call, and they made a play. But at the same time, it’s 14-10 at halftime. We had opportunities in the second half. We didn’t take advantage of them”.
“I’m not going to sit here and say that was the play that was the detriment of the game”, Flores continued. “I mean, we turned the ball over four times, so as a total team, we didn’t do enough to win the game. It’s easy to look at one play and say, ‘hey, that’s the one’, but there’s 150 other plays in the game”.
With two interceptions and two fumble recoveries, the Steelers were able to put up a lot of points off of turnovers, as Miami did in the first quarter. But Pittsburgh shut the score and scored 27 unanswered, sending the Bill Belichick protégé to an 0-7 start in his first season as head coach.