The Miami Dolphins took it to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first half of the teams’ Week 8 showdown. As the teams hit the intermission, the Dolphins continue to dominate both sides of the ball. Here is our recap and immediate reactions from the first 30 minutes.
Dolphins 14 - Steelers 10
First Half Recap
The Dolphins started with the ball, but could not find any early success. They started with a Mark Walton run up the middle, but only picked up two yards. Fitzpatrick then threw two straight incomplete passes and Miami punted.
On first down, Miami defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and linebacker Raekwon McMillan met Steelers running back James Conner at the line of scrimmage, limiting him to a one-yard run. After a Pittsburgh false start, quarterback Mason Rudolph looked for JuJu Smith-Schuster, but Xavien Howard picked off the pass.
Miami capitalized on the turnover, starting with a one-yard run from Walton. Fitzpatrick then found Jakeem Grant for 17 yards. On a Wildcat play, running back Kalen Ballage ran for three yards before Fitzpatrick looked to Albert Wilson in the flat, with the receiver turning it up field for a five yard touchdown. Dolphins 7-0.
Touchdown! Dolphins take the 7-0 lead! pic.twitter.com/8rZgfZKmqY— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) October 29, 2019
Conner started with a 25-yard gain then a one-yard loss on the next Steelers drive, with Rudolph incomplete on the next play. A Miami penalty gave the Steelers a first down on the 3rd-and-11 attempt, with Rudolph incomplete on the next play. Then Rudolph appeared to have a 16 yard gain to Benny Snell, only to have a holding penalty negate the play. The Dolphins then appeared to have an interception on the next play, only to have Ryan Lewis’ toes to touch the sideline before he was able to complete the catch. On 3rd-and-20, Rudolph found Vance McDonald for 14 yards, with the Steelers electing to go for it on 4th-and-6 from the Miami 37. The pass fell incomplete and Miami took over on downs.
Fitzpatrick started with a seven yard pass to Preston Williams, then Mark Walton picked up two yards to convert the first down. After a false start penalty, Miami picked up five yards on a pass to Mike Gesicki. On 3rd-and-14, Fitzpatrick drilled a ball to DeVante Parker, with the forward progress giving Miami a 15-yard gain and a first down. Walton the picked up seven yard, with Fitzpatrick then using the Williams connection again for a 10-yard gain. After an incomplete pass targeting Williams, Fitzpatrick threw a short pass to Williams, turning it into an 11-yard gain. Walton picked up two yards before a 2nd-and-8 play from the Steelers’ 12-yard line turned into an Allen Hurns pinballing touchdown reception. Dolphins 14-0.
Hurns will not be stopped!— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) October 29, 2019
Pittsburgh started their drive with a Conner run for two yards, followed by another for eight yards, then another for four yards. After the change of quarters, Rudolph again challenged Howard looking toward Smith-Schuster, and X nearly had a second pick. Rudolph then turned to Conner for a nine-yard pass, with Snell then picking up five yards, then no gain. Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker and defensive end Taco Charlton combined on a strip sack on the next play, leading to a Steelers punt.
Miami punted on their next drive as well, after a Ballage run for 11 yards, then a pass to Williams for 14, then an incomplete pass, and a Walton run for four yards. The drive ended after Fitzpatrick just got back to the line of scrimmage.
After a gorgeous punt from Matt Haack that hit the five yard line and died, the Steelers started with a one-yard loss from Conner. Then Rudolph found Roosevelt Nix for five yards, then found Diontae Johnson for 12 yards. Conner then picked up eight yards, then 11 yards. Rudolph again connected with Nix for four yards, followed by a Snell run for one yard. Rudolph found Smith-Schuster for 34 yards on the next play, followed by an incomplete pass. The Steelers settled for a 42-yard field goal. Dolphins 14-3.
The Dolphins stared with the ball at their own 29, with a one-yard run from Ballage starting the drive. After a neutral zone infraction on the Steelers, Fitzpatrick found DeVante Parker for five yards. After another neutral zone infraction, both of them on T.J. Watt, and the 2-minute warning, Ballage picked up four yards. Fitzpatrick then looked to Nick O’Leary, but the ball bounced off the tight end and Minkah Fitzpatrick picked off the pass.
Pittsburgh started with a three-yard pass from Rudolph to Johnson. A false start backed up the Steelers to a 2nd-and-12, then an incomplete pass brought up 3rd down. Rudolph then found Smith-Schuster for 34 yards. Two incomplete passes were followed by a 45-yard touchdown pass from Rudolph to Johnson with no Miami defender anywhere near him. Dolphins 14-10.
Miami knelt to kill the clock and go to the half.
Holy crap. Those two words probably are sufficient for the reactions to this start for the Dolphins.
The Dolphins came out firing on all cylinders this week, and it was simply impressive.
How was there any question of that being offensive pass interference near the end of the first half? The receiver held down Howard’s arm. Blatantly held it down while Howard tried to make a play on the ball. If a cornerback were doing that, it would be defensive pass interference. A ball in the air allows both players to have equal rights to the ball. That had to be OPI.
The Dolphins defense let them down at the end of the half, with no one anywhere near Johnson on the touchdown.
Fitzpatrick is 11-for-16 for 112 yards with two touchdowns and a pick, giving him a 102.1 passer rating. Walton leads with seven carries for 15 yards on the ground. Williams has four catches for 42 yards, while Hurns and Wilson have the touchdowns.