Dolphins at Steelers score: Mason Rudolph, Pittsburgh rebound to beat Miami on 'Monday Night Football'

The Pittsburgh Steelers scored 27 unanswered points to defeat the winless Miami Dolphins on "Monday Night Football," 27-14.

The Steelers faced a 14-0 deficit early on, and quarterback Mason Rudolph looked just as bad as he could in the first half. He rebounded to throw for 251 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, however. He made it a point to take chances downfield in this matchup, and those chances paid off in the second half. JuJu Smith-Schuster caught five passes for 103 yards and a touchdown, and Diontae Johnson caught five passes for 84 yards and a touchdown as well. James Conner was the workhorse for this offense, however, and came just two yards away from a new career-high with 145 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Pittsburgh's defense also struggled early on, but they figured things out in the second half. Different stunts freed up the pass rushers and former Dolphin Minkah Fitzpatrick picked off his former team twice.

Once again, the second half was the backbreaker for the Dolphins. At times, it felt like it was Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. the world. He ended up throwing for 190 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but his wide receivers let him down on several occasions. Miami had its chances in the fourth quarter down 10 points, but two fumbles derailed any chance of a comeback.

The Steelers beat the Dolphins and there's a lot to go over. Fortunately Will Brinson, John Breech, Ryan Wilson and Sean Wagner-McGough are here to break everything down on the latest episode of the Pick Six Podcast. Listen to the full show below and be sure to subscribe right here for daily NFL goodness.

Let's take a deeper dive into how the Steelers handed the Dolphins their seventh straight loss:

Why the Steelers won

Mason Rudolph wasn't great early on, but he settled in as the game progressed, mostly because his top two receivers -- JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson -- came up big with some highlight-reel plays and because James Conner refused to stop trucking along, wearing down Miami's defense with 145 yards on 23 carries. The successful ground game enabled Pittsburgh to dominate second-half time of possession, holding the ball for 35:18 by the time the clock hit :00. On the other side of the ball, the Steelers rebounded from a first quarter in which they seemed a step behind Miami's passing routes by neutralizing pretty much everything Brian Flores' squad attempted to do. Rendering the Dolphins' rushing attack nonexistent, they also forced four turnovers, including two fourth-quarter fumbles to seal the comeback win.

Why the Dolphins lost

They showed a lot of energy right out of the gate, not only with Ryan Fitzpatrick starting hot and capitalizing off Rudolph's first-play pick but with a secondary that made a handful of first-half pass breakups on third down. As has been par for the course during their rocky season, however, the 'Phins appeared to run out of answers once the third quarter arrived. Fitzpatrick never stopped fighting, throwing himself around on bootlegs and short-yardage runs, but he also lacked touch on a couple of the plays that ended up in the Steelers' hands. No one stepped up to help him, either, with only DeVante Parker hauling in passes consistently. And Flores' defense was even worse, giving up chunk play after chunk play both up the middle and on the outside, especially after star corner Xavien Howard left the game with a second-half injury.

Turning point

Miami basically begged the Steelers to erase their 14-point lead as the first half came to a close, turning the ball over twice in three drives thanks to Fitzpatrick picks, one of which looked like an arm punt to Pittsburgh's three-yard line. But things didn't swing fully in the Steelers' direction until the very end of the third quarter. Trailing by three following Rudolph's 26-yard floater to Smith-Schuster, the Dolphins were driving with a chance to at least tie the game, reaching the Pittsburgh 47 after a scramble from Fitzpatrick on third down. Flores elected to keep the offense on the field for a fourth-and-one, and Fitzpatrick scrambled a second time, diving forward for what initially appeared to be a first. The refs rewarded Miami a new set of downs, but a challenge from Mike Tomlin reversed the call, handed the Steelers good field position and set up a Conner score to put Pittsburgh up 10.

Play of the game

Steelers corner Mike Hilton displayed supreme effort when he ran down Miami's Mark Walton to force the first of the Dolphins' two fourth-quarter fumbles, and Minkah Fitzpatrick did a nice job picking off his former team twice, but the best play of the game belonged to JuJu, who was actually covered extremely well during his 26-yard score. The wideout simply out-muscled his way to the ball in mid-air and came down with the catch.

Quotable

"Really excited. Good to get Mason back in the fold. He knocked some rust off ... I thought we could've started faster, not only with him but with all of us."

Mike Tomlin kept it real after the game, but he seemed generally encouraged by Rudolph's performance despite a first quarter to forget. While the Steelers defense is what's carrying the team the most, the QB will always be in the spotlight, and Tomlin gave an endorsement of the youngster's growth on Monday night.

What's next

The Steelers (3-4) will be back at home again on Sunday, Nov. 3, for a 1 p.m. ET matchup with the Indianapolis Colts (5-2), who lead the AFC South after topping the Denver Broncos for a third straight win in Week 8. The Dolphins (0-7), meanwhile, will return home on the same day for a 1 p.m. ET game against the AFC East rival New York Jets (1-6) in a battle for the last-place spot in the division.

Relive all the action from Monday's showdown right here:

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@MiamiDolphins via Twitter
October 29, 2019, 3:42 AM

Steelers climb back from a terrible start to finish off the Dolphins with a convincing 27-14 final score, and the latter will now fall to 0-7 on the season. The former goes to 3-4 and still has hope in the AFC Wild Card race, but need to string together wins to truly have a chance. Thanks everyone for following along with our live blog, and we'll see you next time!

The Dolphins were seemingly improving every game over the past few weeks, but tonight was a step in the wrong direction. Their close game vs. the Bills indicated they had a chance to at least cover tonight, but the second half was a back breaker -- just like every second half has been for them so far this season.

The Steelers are dominating time of possession thanks in no small part to James Conner delivering a season-high in rushing yards (136 yards thus far). TOP is tilted wildly in Pittsburgh's favor, with a 34:11 to 20:17 count.

Two lost fumbles on two consecutive drives by the Dolphins. This time it's TJ Watt landing his fifth sack of the year and jarring the ball loose as well. Watt had 13 sacks in 2018, and he's currently on pace for more than 11 in 2019.

I gave a fantasy prediction ahead of this game that said Smith-Schuster would have the best game of the year against the Dolphins secondary. Things looked not great initially thanks to Rudolph's mistakes, but the second half told a different story. Smith-Schuster has 103 yards on five catches and a touchdown with more football to play. It's his first 100-yard game of the year.

The Steelers score 24 unanswered points to go up by 10 on a Dolphins team that doesn't know how to win games, and have now lost a fumble. This is where Pittsburgh can nail the coffin and drop it in the dirt.

Down 10 with 10 minutes left, all is not lost for Miami. But this is the Dolphins we are talking about. Steelers have all the momentum. I would be keeping the ball in the air if I was Miami.

Down 14-0 in the first quarter, the Steelers now lead by 10. Rudolph has gotten the offense on track, the pass rushers figured out how to pressure Fitzpatrick and all is OK again in Pittsburgh.

That touchdown by Conner adds sprinkles to an already strong outing thus far. He has 125 rushing yards on 19 carries, and has been the stabilizing force for the Steelers on MNF.

To say Brian Flores is upset is an understatement of massive proportions. Those aren't nursery rhymes coming out of his mouth -- aimed at the NFL officials. It's taking everything within him, and the Dolphins "get back" assistant, to keep him from getting flagged.

@steelers via Twitter
October 29, 2019, 2:38 AM
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