Steelers 27 Fins 14

Refs 0

Jim Rome
October 29, 2019 - 10:09 am
Dontae Johnson

USA Today

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There are times where the Monday night game is the best game of the week, the one you’ve been waiting all weekend and then all Monday to get to.

Last night was not one of those times. The Pittsburgh Steelers played the Miami Dolphins last night and the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Miami Dolphins last night.

And I could come in here and clown the Dolphins for being 0-7 and for blowing a 14-point lead. Or I could praise them for coming out and jumping out to that 14 point lead on the road and showing some fight. But a lack of fight hasn’t really been the problem. The coaching staff and players are trying to win games, they just don’t have the talent to win games.

It’s not like the coaches are setting out to intentionally lose games. At least that’s what I thought until I saw one play last night.

Miami was leading 14-3 with less than a minute to go in the first half. Pittsburgh had the ball and they were facing a 3rd and 20 from the Miami 45.

And let me take a quick moment here to point out that Pittsburgh had the ball in that spot because Ryan Fitzpatrick was picked off by former teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick. But I digress…

There are a lot of defensive play calls you can make in this situation. The Dolphins called timeout to get the right call and they chose this one.

Just one play away from forcing a punt and few seconds away from going into halftime with a 14-3 lead, Miami went with a cover zero blitz on 3rd and 20. A cover zero blitz. I don’t need to get up to the chalkboard to tell you what that looks like. It looks like eight guys rushing the quarterback and three guys in coverage.

And, shocker, those eight guys didn’t get home. But Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson did. There wasn’t anyone within 15 yards of him when he caught the pass and then made his way into the end zone to make it 14-10. I’m not going to say that moment changed the outcome of the game, Miami was always losing this one. It was only a matter of how and by how much.

But that sure as hell changed momentum going into halftime.

And if you think Dolphins head coach Brian Flores is second-guessing that call, you better think again: “I don’t have any regrets on the call.”

And he added: “Wanted to be aggressive. We can second-guess a lot of calls. I’m not going to second-guess that one.”

I’ll be honest, Flores is in an impossible situation. He’s trying to coach a team that’s been stripped of talent. So I’m not going to second-guess that call…yes, I am. I’m going to second-guess it, third-guess it, and first-guess it. Second-guessing would imply that I’m questioning it after the fact, but really, I was questioning it as it played out.

I’m all for being aggressive, but given the talent they have and the situation they found themselves in, it was a terrible call. You’d have been better off calling punt block, because at least there’d be a guy back to play deep. 

And the momentum completely swung towards Pittsburgh after that play. And if you didn’t know the Steelers were going to win then, you certainly knew in the second half. Because the Dolphins just could not keep control of the ball.

Hey, Minkah, have another one.

Oh, this looks like it could be a good play for the Dolphins. No, it’s not.

And it seemed like every time Ryan Fitzpatrick dropped back to pass, TJ Watt was in his beard. Like this.

At that point, I just felt bad for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Don’t get me wrong. He seems to have a good thing going. He’s got a lot of kids. He’s got a huge beard. And did you know he went to Harvard? But he was getting so overpowered by TJ Watt and fumbling the ball all over the place. It was rough and painful to watch.

And speaking of rough and painful to watch, how about the fact that we’ve made it this far in talking about last night’s game and haven’t talked about the officiating once.

That’s not because the officiating was good, it was terrible. Again. And it is really leaving a mark on the game. Maybe you can get away with bad officiating on a Sunday when everyone is watching different games, but on Monday night, in primetime, here’s what you can’t do: have a 10 minute review. In a game that bad, no less.

And that’s exactly what the officials had in the third quarter. On fourth and 1, Fitzpatrick tried to scramble for a first down and the officials gave it to him.

The Steelers challenged. Okay. That’s fine. They should do that. And on review, Fitzpatrick was ruled to be down short of the first down line. Steelers’ ball. Cool.

And then the chain gang came out, because you know, it’s 2019 and there’s no better way of measuring the placement of a football than a crew of people with two sticks and a bunch of chain.  Talk about exact science: talk about moving the game ahead to 2019: they’ll still measuring for first downs with a couple of guys, sticks and a bike chain. In the meantime, the review continued.

When it was all said and done, it was roughly 10 minutes. For a review of whether or not a guy got to the first down marker.

But let’s be clear - that’s not a 10-minute review, that’s a 10-minute delay. In a game that nobody really wanted to see in the first place. It’s almost another halftime. You do that and you better roll out “Up With People” to provide some entertainment. Get me my up with people. Or even worse Coldplay.

If you need 10 minutes to review something and check it, you’re in over your heads. Seriously. And the worst part of that review is knowing that the league doesn’t really seem to have a problem with it. Officiating has been a complete disaster all season long and you’ve got guys like Jerry Jones saying as long as people are talking about it, that’s a good thing. The hell it is.

It’s a terrible thing and the only thing worse than having to watch a 0-6 Dolphins team on Monday night is having to sit through a 10-minute delay while the officials do their jobs. The Dolphins are 0-7, but at least they claim to have a plan for getting better. The NFL refs are 0 for everything and the league is cool with it. And there’s no reason to believe that’s going to change or improve any time soon. The NFL needs to follow suit with Major League Baseball. And just bring on the robots. They don’t have any trouble making up their minds.