Winners and losers from the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Miami Dolphins Sunday night inside Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday Night Football.
George Pickens — With Kenny Pickett under center now, the passing game is starting to take off a bit for the black and gold. One of the main beneficiaries has been rookie second-round pick George Pickens. On Sunday night, he hauled in his first career touchdown on a spectacular back-shoulder catch that showed off his rapport with Pickett. He also had a key 30-yard catch down the sideline that jumpstarted the Steelers offense, and just generally looked confident once again.
Chase Claypool — One week after putting together a dominant performance against the Buccaneers, Claypool followed it up with another strong showing against the Dolphins, especially in the second half. Granted, he did fall down on Pickett’s first interception of the game — a play that should have been called pass interference — but in the second half, especially the fourth quarter, he got back to being what he was against the Buccaneers. Claypool moved the chains consistently in the fourth quarter, converting a 3rd and 10. The numbers might not look great overall, but he played a strong game for the second week in a row.
Terrell Edmunds — Edmunds is starting to show just how valuable he is to the Steelers, and is starting to finally get his roses. Though he had a dropped interception, Edmunds was a force in the box once again for the black and gold, and even played well in coverage, running stride for stride with Tyreek Hill on a deep shot to force a key incompletion. He’s a key piece on the Steelers defense.
Gunner Olszewski — Probably a little bit strange to see Olszewski back on the winners and losers list, but getting forced back into the starting lineup as the return for the Steelers due to an injury to Steven Sims, he played rather well in rainy conditions. He didn’t provide the splash in the return game that Sims did a week ago, but he brought consistency and some security back to the position against the Dolphins. He made good decisions on punt returns and ran rather hard as a kick returner on the night. Good to see him bounce back.
Steelers defensive coaching staff — It didn’t look like Teryl Austin, Brian Flores, Jerry Olsavsky, Grady Brown, Karl Dunbar and Mike Tomlin were going to be on this list after the first two drives of the game in the first quarter as it looked very easy for the Dolphins. After that though, the Steelers tightened up defensively and really gave the Dolphins’ explosive offense fits, holding Miami scoreless in the second half. They did a great job disguising coverages, keeping a cap on things and really confusing Tua Tagovailoa and Mike McDaniel.
Pat Freiermuth — After missing the win over the Buccaneers due to a concussion, Pat Freiermuth came back into the lineup in a big way, hauling in eight passes for 75 yards, coming though in a big way down the stretch, hauling in a key fourth down pass over the middle from Kenny Pickett.
Kenny Pickett — Early on Pickett seemed out of whack, missing some throws in the first half. He started to bounce back in a big way in the second half, manufacturing some drives in the fourth quarter, but a mind-numbing interception in the final minute on a ball in which he should have thrown out of bounds, resulting in the loss. One drive before that on a 3rd and 16, he stared down Diontae Johnson and threw a woeful interception. He’s going through rookie growing pains in a big way right now.
Pressley Harvin III — A junior varsity punt of 23 yards to open the game just continues to show the inconsistency with which the second-year punter is dealing with. He could be out of a job soon. Outside of the 23-yard punt, Harvin was just passable as an NFL punter, averaging 42 yards per punt. Regardless of how his other five punts looked on the night, the 23-yarder to open the game is hard to get past at this point in Harvin’s career.
Steelers pass rush — One week after destroying the Tampa Bay defensive line and getting after Tom Brady in a big way, the Steelers pass rush was nearly non-existent all night against the Dolphins, hitting Tagovailoa just once on the night, which was recorded by Malik Reed. Some of that had to do with Tagovailoa getting the football out quickly, but without T.J. Watt the Steelers pass rush is far too inconsistent.
Scripted offensive series — Maybe this one should be titled Matt Canada at this point, but the scripted offensive series from the Steelers remain a mess. Opening up the game, the Steelers went three-and-out right away and then threw a pick on the very next possession. Coming out of the half with the football, the Steelers proceeded to go three-and-out three time with a four-and-out and a five-and-out sandwiched in between. Just not good enough.
Secondary ball skills — Realistically, the Steelers should have had a minimum of three interceptions on the night. Instead, they didn’t record any. Levi Wallace, Edmunds and Cameron Sutton dropped picks in the loss. Of those drops, the Wallace and Sutton ones led directly to points for the Dolphins. Those are killer. Have to make the plays when they’re there and the secondary just isn’t at the moment.