MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. _ After further review …
The subject of identity came up again after Dolphins 16, Steelers 10.
Specifically, Mike Tomlin was asked if he thought his offense was getting closer to finally establishing one seven games into a season that so far has yielded two victories and five defeats.
"I feel like we are but we didn't make the necessary splash plays to secure victory," the Steelers' head coach responded.
"But I certainly feel like we are, certainly."
This after the Steelers had scored one offensive touchdown or fewer for the fourth time in seven tries.
That's not the identity the Steelers are after.
Tomlin knows that's what they've been but remains convinced that's not who they are.
A look at what went right against Miami, and what could have, confirms Tomlin's conviction.
The touchdown drive, while an outlier on Sunday night, was also a high-water mark this season.
The 13-play, 86-yard march in 7:29 covered more ground and ate up more clock than any previous possession that ended up in the end zone.
Along the way the Steelers converted a pair of third downs, including a third-and-12. They overcame a flag for an illegal block that cost them 10 yards. Quarterback Kenny Pickett hit four different receivers for positive yardage and contributed a 16-yard scramble with his legs. And they finished in spectacular fashion on a fade to wide receiver George Pickens, the type of splash Tomlin had referenced as necessary.
That's who they can be.
They had two more opportunities to be that again with the game on the line.
But self-inflicted wounds helped conspire to deny the Steelers a late, game-stealing TD.
The first of those occurred after the Dolphins had been penalized for illegal contact with just over seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Facing a first-and-10 from their 27-yard line, the Steelers couldn't get organized and had to take a timeout prior to the play clock expiring (that would come back to haunt them).
The second was a penalty for an illegal shift incurred on a play on which Pickett converted a third-and-1 at the Miami 15 on a QB sneak with just over three minutes left in regulation.
The drive had started at the Steelers' 18.
It was 15 yards away from an extra point for the lead when it unraveled.
What turned out to be their last possession started at the Steelers' 13 and reached the Dolphins' 25 before Pickett's last pass was picked off in the end zone with 18 seconds remaining (one more timeout might have made all the difference).
Clean this type of stuff up and that identity the Steelers continue to seek may be within reach after all.
These weren't miscommunications between Pickett and one of his receivers or the result of a split-second decision by Pickett on whether he should pass or run upon escaping the pocket.
These weren't physical mistakes, fumbles or interceptions or dropped passes or holding penalties.
These were control-ables the Steelers didn't control in the weightiest of moments.
And that can't happen for an offense for which growing pains, physical mistakes and misplays and the like, will have to be worked around at times as the unit matures.
Tomlin, as disappointed as anyone in the visitor's contingent at Hard Rock Stadium, emphasized he "certainly" thinks they're closer to writing a different narrative.
Closer than 2-5 suggests.