After the first couple drives, it looked like the Miami Dolphins were going to boat race the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football. That did not end up being the case and the Dolphins were forced to grind out a difficult 16-10 victory over the Steelers.
It was probably a frustrating game for some fans but it isn’t easy to win in the NFL, especially against Mike Tomlin coached teams. There is no question that the Dolphins didn’t play up to their full potential, but there were plenty of great things they put on tape this week.
The Offensive Line Showed Up
We talked about the offensive line last week. They didn’t play badly then, but Greg Little had a rough outing. Well with Terron Armstead taking the place of Little, this offensive line had one of their best performances of the season.
With 38 pass blocking snaps, the offensive line allowed a total of 4 pressures, 1 quarterback hit, and no sacks (per PFF). Compare that with last week when as a group they allowed 18 pressures, 1 hit, and 3 sacks. Some of that has to do with Tua’s quick release and fast processing, but they also played much better.
While the pass protection was great, what gave me the most joy was watching the interior linemen on running plays. Connor Williams really had an impressive performance and they’re starting to perfect these inside double teams/combo blocks. Raheem Mostert will get most of the credit for the increased rushing production (4.9 ypc), but it was the offensive line that created those running lanes.
Big Defensive Plays Down the Stretch
I was cautious with heaping too much praise on Noah Igbinoghene last week, but he made one of the game defining plays against the Steelers. Him and Jevon Holland both made spectacular interceptions at the end that put a halt to a Pittsburgh Steeler come back attempt.
The two big plays that sealed the game at the end. Snowman continues to show why he's one of the best safeties in the game and love to see Iggy get a chance to show off his improved ball skills. #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/39b0KwrnCX— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 25, 2022
The best part of this is that Iggy made such a great play on the ball. His issue in the NFL (and even in college) has always been his ability to react appropriately at the catch point. He’s always been good at shadowing receivers but has struggled with the ball in the air. Pickett threw this ill-advised pass and Noah was able to catch the interception and get his feet in bounds-impressive stuff.
Jevon Holland is one of the best safeties in the NFL and he proves it just about every week. His range and ability diagnose plays are both second to none in this league. It shouldn’t surprise anyone at this point, but I still love pointing it out.
Jaelan Phillips Had Another Huge Game
I talked about him so much last week, but after watching this game film I couldn’t help but bring him up on the film review. Phillips is quickly turning into one of the best pass rushers in the league.
Jaelan Phillips came up HUGE in the second half. He continues to string together strong performances and is quickly becoming one of the best young pass rushers in the NFL. #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/503aT7WVR8— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 25, 2022
Over the last two weeks, Phillips is tied (with Myles Garrett) for the most pressures by any edge defender with 13 and leads the league in defensive stops with 8 (Per PFF). He is coming on strong as we approach the midpoint of this season. It’s also worth pointing out how incredible that 2021 draft is shaping up to be-especially if Liam Eichenberg continues to trend in the right direction.
Conclusions and Looking Forward
The team is starting to come together at the right time. The offensive line is solid with Terron Armstead in the lineup, so hopefully he can remain healthy and they will continue to stack good performances. It doesn’t look like Byron Jones is coming back anytime soon, so this secondary will need to continue to have younger guys step up to make plays. We are also lucky to be watching a player the caliber of Jaelan Phillips develop into a top pass rusher right before our eyes. Looking forward to Detroit, he will have his toughest test as he faces off against Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell.
The Dolphins will face off against the Detroit Lions in Detroit next Sunday at 1:00pm est. It will be important for the defense to control the line of scrimmage and for our offensive line to continue to protect Tua and open running lanes.