A tale of two halves were told in Pittsburgh on Monday night. The Steelers came into Week 8 as slow as they could've started - allowing 14 unanswered points before going on a 24-0 run to take the lead.
Mason Rudolph lost the crowd early, with signs of a Duck calling coming throughout the first quarter. The quarterback should've allowed three turnovers in the opening quarter and the fans made it known they were ready to see Devlin Hodges if something didn't change.
On defense, the Dolphins got out to a 14-point lead. A 14-point lead.
It was as sloppy of a start as one team could have, especially for the secondary. Miami came out with a short and quick passing attack, keeping Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt away from Ryan Fitzpatrick before releasing the ball.
All of this changed at halftime. The Steelers started to gain momentum prior to halftime with a Minkah Fitzpatrick interception and a Diontae Johnson touchdown. Once the 15 minute mark hit in the third, though, this was a whole new ball game.
The change happened when Mason Rudolph calmed down. James Washington said early last week that Rudolph would need a few plays to adjust back after being knocked out against the Ravens. That happened, but as soon as he found his rhythm, there was no stopping him.
Mason Rudolph's 251-yards and two touchdowns rounded out the offense, but James Conner's 154-yards and JuJu Smith-Schuster's 103 receiving yards were what separated Pittsburgh throughout the night.
For the first time all season, the Steelers' two biggest superstars exceeded 100-yards. What it brought was a tone that the ball was always going to continue moving forward. When you take the pressure off your second-year quarterback, it allows the offense to open up.
On defense, the Dolphins' strong start turned into a complete loss of production. Ryan Fitzpatrick and offense was unable to get past the 50 yard-line most drives, turning the ball over X times.
Minkah Fitzpatrick reminded his former team exactly what they gave up, intercepting two passes. Mike Hilton continued to show the team that he's worth a contract and Bud Dupree was right behind him, throwing offensive linemen around all night long.
A flawless second half with one blemish - Chris Boswell's missed 54-yard field goal. This team is rolling, but they'll need to come out just as strong as they did in the second half against Miami. Teams like the Colts and Rams won't be as forgiving with 14-0 starts.
Still plenty to work on, the Steelers are a team on the rise. The defense continues to control games, and if the offense can click the way it did this week, they'll put points on the board.
The season is still alive. Pittsburgh is 3-4 and looking forward. Next up, Indianapolis.