In his first game back since suffering a concussion almost three weeks ago, Mason Rudolph looked lost early but was able to find his footing and his receivers as he led the Pittsburgh Steelers back from a 14-point deficit in order to defeat the Miami Dolphins 27-14.
This one did not start as many would expect as Rudolph looked shaky right from the beginning of tonight’s contest as he threw an interception on his very first pass. Rudolph’s decision making was sub par as an errand pass landed in the hands of Dolphins’ cornerback Xavien Howard and the mistakes would continue to roll from there.
On the ensuing drive, Rudolph looked to be intercepted again as a pass intended for James Washington landed in the hands of a Dolphins’ defensive back but the interception was overturned after review. The Steelers would not do much with their second chance as Rudolph threw behind Washington on fourth down, putting the ball back in the hands of the Dolphins.
The Dolphins would take advantage of both of these mistakes. Following Howard’s interception, Ryan Fitzpatrick marched 26-yards down the field and found Albert Wilson for a five-yard touchdown. Fitzpatrick was not done there as after the turnover on downs, he would do more of the same, compiling a 63-yard drive and finishing with another touchdown pass, this one to Allen Hurns to go up 14-0.
Fitzpatrick is a name that the Steelers have seen a lot but he has never defeated the Steelers. He looked like he was on his way to his first victory over the black and gold team but thanks to the effort of former acquaintance, Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, the defense would hold and do enough to give their own offense a chance to respond.
In his first game against his former team, Fitzpatrick recorded two interceptions and both would lead to Steelers’ touchdowns.
Fitzpatrick’s interception plus a questionable call to blitz eight while dropping only three in coverage proved costly for the Dolphins as Rudolph found rookie receiver Diontae Johnson, who was crossing the field wide open for a 45-yard touchdown pass. After going down 14-0 early, the Steelers headed into halftime down 14-10.
Just as Fitzpatrick’s first interception would be the catalyst for the first Steelers touchdown, the free safety would also be responsible for leading the Steelers to their second touchdown. After recording his second interception of the game, the Steelers would take over at their own three-yard line and Rudolph would orchestrate a drive for the ages.
97 yards, that is what stood between Rudolph and the end zone but the Steelers’ quarterback spread the wealth between JuJu Smith-Schuster, Washington and Johnson to drive down the field, putting himself in position to connect with Smith-Schuster for a 26-yard touchdown pass. Smith-Schuster rose over the top of the Dolphins’ defense and was able to give the Steelers a 17-14 lead, their first lead of the night and a lead that they would never relinquish.
Smith-Schuster would finish with 103 receiving yards and a touchdown while Johnson would also add 84 receiving yards and a touchdown. Rudolph, the man throwing them the football would finish with two touchdowns, one interception and over 250 yards passing.
James Conner grounded and pounded the Dolphins defense all night long as well and the Steelers running back put together his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season, rushing for 145 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown would come early in the fourth quarter and would help put the Steelers ahead 24-14.
After scoring 14 points in the first quarter, the Dolphins were shut out the rest of the way as the Steelers’ defense put the clamps down and forced four turnovers. Fitzpatrick would grab two interceptions himself while T.J. Watt and Mike Hilton would each force a fumble, both coming in the fourth quarter, ending any chance of a possible Dolphins’ comeback.
On the injury front, both Benny Snell Jr. (knee) and Ramon Foster (concussion) left this contest and did not return. Conner was also injured very late in the game and did not return.
The Steelers will now move to second in the AFC North at 3-4 and prepare to welcome the AFC South leading Indianapolis Colts into Heinz Field next Sunday. Kickoff is set for 1:00 P.M. EST.