The storylines were scarce coming into Monday night but, by the end of the evening, it was clear that the Week 8 finale had become the "Minkah Fitzpatrick revenge game."
For the first time in his career, the Pittsburgh Steelers safety snagged a pair of interceptions -- setting up two Mason Rudolph touchdown passes in the process -- en route to a 27-14 win over the Dolphins (0-7) on "Monday Night Football."
Winning on 'MNF' was all the Steelers (3-4) had to think about but, for Fitzpatrick, the game carried extra weight as it was his first meeting against the team that traded him to the Steel City on Sept. 16. Fitzpatrick, who played for Miami in Weeks 1-2, became the first player in NFL history with multiple INTs in a game against a team for which he played a game that same season, per the Elias Sports Bureau.
When asked if Fitzpatrick showed a little extra gusto in practice in the days prior, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he noticed more of the same focused intensity out of the 22-year-old as opposed to any changes.
"Minkah's kind of a flatliner. I doubt there was anything personal or anything of that nature. He's got that same general demeanor just about every week," Tomlin said. "Not that I've been around him a bunch of weekends but he's 'Steady Eddie' in terms of his approach. Very professional."
Speaking from his locker, Fitzpatrick, sporting a proud grin on his face, backed up Tomlin's remarks, adding he prepared like it was "just another game" and dismissing his athletic feats by saying he "played well."
But, even with the poised answers he gave, the smile that remained stretched across his face prompted a question about whether the game meant more to him that he was letting on. Rather than take the bait and play up his big night, the 2018 11th overall pick stayed true and played it cool.
"Any game if I ever have two picks is going to put a big smile on my face after the game, know what I'm sayin'," Fitzpatrick said. "It is my former team and former teammates but I have all the respect in the world for them and it's the NFL game.
"If I had the two picks next week or last week, it's still gonna add a big smile on my face."