IT’S A TRAP! Why Steelers will lose to Dolphins

The Steelers overcome some early hiccups and went on to dominate the Jets, prevailing 31-13. Although they dismantled the Jets trap, Pittsburgh’s real test comes next week in Miami.

Sunday’s victory, largely, showed the Steelers at their best.

Ben Roethlisberger was again prolific, carving up the Jets secondary for 380 yards and four touchdowns. Ben’s effort was made possible by the offensive line, who provided a clean pocket all afternoon. The Steelers defense completely shut out New York in the second half.

Young Steelers played key roles in the win. Sammie Coates, despite a few ugly drops, registered his best game as a pro. Coates’ six catches for 139 yards and two scores could have been even better if not for the butter fingers. Anthony Chickillo notched his first NFL sack as he stripped Ryan Fitzpatrick. Jordan Dangerfield held his own at strong safety.

Pittsburgh’s week five win offered a lot to like. It also foreshadowed a loss against the Miami Dolphins.

That’s no typo. Steelers-Dolphins has every ingredient of a vintage trap game. If you were feeling nervous at halftime against the Jets, you’d better have a toilet nearby when Pittsburgh travels to Miami this Sunday.

Seasoned Steelers fans know this too well. Every year, Pittsburgh is guaranteed 2-3 losses in games which they should dominate. It’s as remarkable as it is infuriating. The defense collapses, the offenses bogs down, and play calling becomes so suspect that it needs its own NCIS episode.

Speaking of which – remember that awful fake field goal the Steelers tried near the end of the second half? The one where punter Jordan Berry took the snap himself and ran into a wall of Jets defenders?

That play was a painful illustration of Mike Tomlin’s greatest liability as a head coach. As great a coach as Tomlin is, his ego commonly finds a way to get the better of him. Ego, more than anything else, is the catalyst that causes the Steelers to lose these trap games.

The Steelers dismantled the Jets’ trap in impressive fashion. But the Dolphins’ trap is as enticing as it gets.

Pittsburgh is fresh off two demolitions of respectable AFC opponents. Big Ben is on fire, Le’Veon Bell is back to form, and the defense looks stronger by the quarter. At 4-1, the Steelers control first place in the AFC North.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins are 1-4. Ryan Tannehill sucks, they can’t run the ball, and their defense just surrendered 30 points to the Titans.

The steamrolling Super Bowl favorite versus the hapless franchise with no identity. The team with a historically-talented offense versus the team that is allergic to the red zone. The team who reached the AFC Divisional round last year versus the team who hasn’t seen postseason football since 2008.

T-R-A-P.

There’s no reason the Steelers shouldn’t destroy the Dolphins. Pittsburgh is superior in all facets of the game. But if ego gets in the way, Miami will be celebrating the defining upset of their season.

We’ve seen ego cripple Pittsburgh before. Last December in Baltimore, for instance. A game the Steelers should’ve easily won, but lost in embarrassing fashion. Ego is why.

It’ll be far too easy for the Steelers to slack off in wake of the Dolphins. Based on pure skill alone, Pittsburgh beats Miami 10/10 times. That fact, however, cannot justify poor preparation and a negligent game plan.

Should the Steelers succumb to ego and take this game lightly, history is doomed to repeat itself.

If Tomlin takes a lax approach in practice this week, the players will follow. After the Massacre at Philadelphia, this is a lesson that shouldn’t need repeated. Sunday in Miami will serve as evidence to whether the Steelers have fully learned their lesson or not.

The Steelers are infamous for ‘playing down’ to their opponents. A roster as loaded as Pittsburgh’s is only capable of reaching Miami’s level if they don’t adequately prepare, or if they simply don’t care about winning – and they certainly care about winning.

As the old adage goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. We’ll see if the Steelers have embraced that philosophy against all opponents this Sunday.

Mike Tomlin’s team is physically incapable of being defeated by the Dolphins. The real trap? The Steelers beating themselves.

All stats via NFL.com.