Tim Benz: Airing of grievances after Steelers slow start in win over Dolphins | TribLIVE.com
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Tim Benz: Airing of grievances after Steelers slow start in win over Dolphins

Tim Benz
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph walks off the field after his second interception against the Miami Dolphins Monday, Oct. 28, 2019 at Heinz Field.

Even in the wake of victory, it’s never hard to construct an “Airing of Grievances” after a Steelers game.

Especially when they trailed the woeful (0-7) Miami Dolphins into the third quarter.

So let’s get to it.

The first quarter

It wasn’t pretty.

Miami is believed to be one of the worst non-expansion teams ever constructed. Yet they jumped out to a 14-0 lead at Heinz Field.

That’s because the Steelers punted, turned the ball over on downs and threw an interception during their three offensive series in the first frame.

On defense, they displayed some of the most sloppy tackling you’ll ever see on this touchdown.

The defense allowed two scoring drives totaling 89 yards before the first quarter ended.

A better team than Miami takes that start, then runs away and hides.

Mason Rudolph

The final numbers ended up being ok. The second-year quarterback ended up 20-for-36 for 251 yards, with two touchdowns to offset that interception. All that was good for an 84 passer rating.

But he was inaccurate at times throwing short, long and behind receivers. He held onto the ball a long time and occasionally showed happy feet.

Also, it appeared Rudolph tried to show everyone a deep-to-intermediate passing game is genuinely in his repertoire. And he wound up forcing a few throws when he had James Conner and Vance McDonald as check down options.

I get that. Expanding the passing game is a necessity for the Steelers. Working on it against a team like the Dolphins was a luxury Rudolph needed to explore.

Sure, we must factor in rust from a bye week and extra time lost to a concussion. But a better defense than Miami’s eats him up and spits him out.

Rudolph needs to be significantly better if the Steelers are going to beat either the Indianapolis Colts or Los Angeles Rams.

Conner’s shoulder (AC joint) injury

Why was he even in the game at that point? The Steelers were up 13 points against a lousy team just before the two-minute warning.

Why risk more carries for a running back that seems to constantly battle injuries and isn’t exactly a master of ball security late in games anyway.

See games against Oakland, Cleveland, Denver, Jacksonville and San Francisco over the last two years as evidence.

I get it. Jaylen Samuels was inactive. And Benny Snell got hurt during the game. Rarely used Trey Edmunds was the only other option.

But if you don’t want to trust Edmunds in a situation like that or get him some work, when would you try?

“With these injuries, they’re going to linger for a while,” Conner told 93.7 The Fan Tuesday. “It’s just something I have to play through. If I can do my range of motion with a little bit of strength back, you know I’m going to tough it out and be available for the team.”

If he can’t go, it’ll likely be Edmunds and Samuels — fresh off a knee scope — as the running back options Sunday against the Colts.

The long field goal attempt

I hated to see Chris Boswell’s first miss of the season come on a 54-yard prayer into the open end of Heinz Field on the third quarter’s opening drive.

Punt there. Pin Miami deep. The Steelers were down 14-10 at that point. I would’ve made the Dolphins offense go the length of the field instead of giving them a 36-yard head start.

This is nitpicking. But, hey, that’s what this weekly feature is about.

The replay delay

This isn’t nitpicking. That was awful.

As we discussed Monday, it was great to see Mike Tomlin get a challenge right when he got the officials to overturn a first-down call on a Fitzpatrick scramble.

That was his first challenge win in 11 tries.

Maybe that’s what took so long. Officiating director Al Riveron was so stunned Tomlin got one right, he had to quadruple check.

But the delay lasted more than 10 minutes.

As ProFootballTalk pointed out, halftime lasts 13 minutes.

That’s a joke.

Of all the dumb replays they do, those are the most mind-numbing. In slow motion, they analyze down to a nanosecond and gnat’s eyelash when and where the ball carrier came down.

Then they approximate a spot by roughly eyeballing it for a measurement with the chains.

What sense does that make?

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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