Week Seven Takeaways: Steelers missed opportunities lead to loss to Dolphins

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team in transition. No one really wants to say the words, “rebuild,” because there are a lot of football loyalists out there that don’t believe that the Steelers have completely taken everything down to the foundation in order to create something new on top. That’s not the only definition of “rebuild,” however; it can also mean to put something that is injured, damaged, defective, or broken back together, patch or temporarily fix a hole or use new material to mend or repair.

Fans can argue about individual members of the Steelers coaching staff, players, front office, and even the training staff if that suits their fancy and makes them feel like they have some form of control. But, over the last few years – following the Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown dust-ups, the retirements of Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro, the players that moved to other teams or just ended up with no team, and then Ben Roethlisberger‘s decision to hang up the cleats – it was pretty clear that the Pittsburgh Steelers would need to rebuild. Whether that fit the definition fans had of the word, or not, things in Pittsburgh were not going to remain the same – and everyone should have been more than aware of it.

Saying that, the Steelers are – indeed – in a situation where they need their team mended back together into an NFL contender. The progress is not typically immediate, but things could be going a little smoother for Pittsburgh than it has been. A loss in Miami to a Dolphins team illustrated that there are still areas that require more fine-tuning than others.

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The picture above of veteran safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and head coach Mike Tomlin summed up some of my feelings about Sunday Night’s game in Miami, and I’m sure there are plenty of people that will internalize the emotion in it as well.

To me, it emotes a question, “What do we do,” from Fitzpatrick and, “Execute and do more,” from Tomin. A photograph is easy to misinterpret, though, but even Tomlin said following the game, “The Miami Dolphins… they made plays to secure victory, man, and really, we didn’t.”

The biggest factor to take away from this Week 7 game was that the Steelers had opportunities to earn a “W” and let those favorable moments slip through their fingers; often literally.

Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett will garner a lot of the frustrations Steelers fans have with their team. Football is a team sport, though, and although the box score says that Pickett tossed three balls that turned into interceptions, there were other issues that led to those picks.

Two of those plays could arguably be blamed on how the receiver (Diontae Johnson) responded or didn’t respond to his quarterback and the defender that was closest to him. That receiver could have pushed the defender out of bounds on the second interception in which he was targeted to possibly keep it from being the final play of the game, or tried harder to grab it and be the game’s comeback hero.

The third interception was the result of the targeted receiver being on the turf (Chase Claypool), penalty or not (it wasn’t called), and not upright to catch the ball.

It’s easy to forget that Pickett is not in the same situation as Roethlisberger was as a rookie. Dale Lolley may have said it best when he wrote post-game the following statement:

“The biggest difference between the rookie seasons of Pickett and Roethlisberger were that the latter was playing with a very veteran group. Pickett doesn’t have that to fall back on. He and the rest of this offense are largely learning on the job.”

Defensively, the Steelers had the opportunity to earn takeaways of their own and could not seem to come away with the turnovers. Yes, it was raining off and on throughout the game… but that didn’t keep the Dolphins from taking advantage. Levi Wallace had a chance at two takeaways, and both Cameron Sutton and Terrell Edmunds had near interceptions.

The thing that makes that heartbreaking was that the Pittsburgh defense actually held Miami to just three points following the first half. In fact, neither offense scored in the second half of the game, period.

The Steelers fall to 2-5 ahead of a meeting with a 6-0 Philadelphia Eagles team that has patched their holes and rebuilt for the 2022 NFL regular season.

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