Indianapolis Colts 3-7-0-0 — 10
Pittsburgh Steelers 6-15-7-17 — 45
After a wacky start, the Steelers settled down on defense and exploded on offense, beating the Colts 45-10. The wackiness wasn’t due to President Obama’s interruption, but rather three turnovers in the opening five minutes. The Colts wasted good field position twice, but took an early 3-0 lead nonetheless. Not taking advantage proved costly, as the Steelers looked unbeatable once they got rolling.
Drifting away from the storyline, which was controlled by the Steelers throughout, the Steelers look impossible to stop on offense. First there’s Antonio Brown, who makes a strong case for league’s best receiver. He finished with 8 catches for 118 yards and two scores, and was a nightmare to cover all night long. And when it was all said and done, he ran a punt back to the house.
If you stop Brown, what about Wheaton and Bryant? The Steelers’ receiving core is growing up fast, and Bryant’s 68-yard TD reminded us how dangerous he can be in single coverage.
So you want to slow down the pass. You mix man coverage with zone coverage. You get a solid pass rush from just four lineman.
DeAngelo Williams is the Steelers’ secret weapon.
At 32 years old, Williams signed to Pittsburgh in the offseason without much fanfare. But without Le’Veon Bell in the lineup, Williams has shined in the starting role. It’s a role he hardly ever saw during his decade in Carolina, and he moves without any of the wear usually seen on a back of his age. He finished with 134 yards on 26 carries, and caught five passes for an additional 31 yards.
The Steelers move to 7-5, and will be the Wild Card team nobody wants to play this winter. The Colts drop to 6-6, but are still in first place in the AFC South.
Fourth Quarter Updates
More of the same at Heinz Field, with DeAngelo Williams bringing it home for the Steelers. He finished with 134 yards, looking far too quick to be 32 years old.
The Colts put together an admirable drive after Pittsburgh made it 35-10, and drove it all the way to Pittsburgh’s 22. But veteran James Harrison got around the outside and stripped Hasselbeck, who uncharacteristically turned the ball over all night. He left the game with head and neck injuries, and Charlie Whitehurst finished the game for the Colts.
The game was in hand in the fourth, but Antonio Brown wasn’t done. Filling in for benched Jacoby Jones, Brown ran a punt back 71 yards for a touchdown to cap the scoring.
Stat to Know: James Harrison recorded his third sack. He has the most multi-sack games in Steelers history.
Play of the Quarter:
Third Quarter Recap
After giving up two touchdowns right before halftime, the last thing you’d expect is for the Colts to come out flat.
But they did. And the Steelers did not.
After a quick punt to start the second half, Roethlisberger laid a perfect lob to Martavis Bryant, who raced away from defenders for a 68-yard TD.
At times, Roethlisberger and the Steelers looked unimpeded. The Colts almost got a big stop halfway through the quarter, when Roethlisberger was sacked by Trent Cole to force a fourth down. But a defensive holding call negated the sack, and the Steelers stayed on the field. After Roethlisberger tried to nail the coffin with several long ass attempts, the Steelers stalled. Chris Boswell missed the 47-yard field goal, keeping the score 28-10.
Almost forgotten on the drive was strong running from DeAngelo Williams, who is bringing outstanding balance to the Steelers offense. Williams ran for three straight first downs on the drive, only to have vertical attempts end the possession.
Frank Gore did his best to spark the Colts, starting the ensuing drive with a 34 yard catch-and-run. But Matt Hasselbeck continued to struggle, drawing a critical delay of game penalty on a third down from the Steelers 16. Instead of three the Colts needed eight, and that was enough to stymie the Colts. A fourth down attempt was broken up, and the Colts still trail by 18.
On the last play of the quarter, Ben finally got his deep ball. He connected with Antonio Brown on a 48-yard completion on the final play, giving Pittsburgh first and goal to start the final quarter.
Stat to Know: DeAngelo Williams is 32 years old
Play of the Quarter:
Second Quarter Recap
In the second, both teams were able to break into the end zone. The Colts struck first, on a drive led by their veteran players. Consecutive catches for Andre Johnson set up a short pass to Frank Gore, and the Colts regained the lead.
It was short-lived, however, as Ben Roethlisberger began to heat up. He has 219 yards at the break, and threw two touchdowns in the last five minutes of the quarter. The first went to Antonio Brown, and the second was a perfect pass to Markus Wheaton with 14 seconds left in the half.
If the Colts don’t improve on defense, this game is going to get ugly from here out. Matt Hasselbeck has 82 yards passing at the half, and the Colts are in no position to win a shootout.
Stat to Know: Pittsburgh ran three running plays on their last two drives (2 TD)
Play of the Quarter:
First Quarter Recap
Sunday Night Football got off to a wild start, and we’re not talking about an address from the Oval Office. Jacoby Jones fumbled the opening kickoff, giving Indianapolis the ball on the 11-yard line to start the game. It didn’t mean much, as Matt Hasselbeck’s second pass attempt of the night turned into the first career interception for Jarvis Jones.
The Steelers tried to calm things down, and ran three straight times with DeAngelo Williams. But Williams coughed up the fourth carry, giving the ball back to the Colts once again. The Colts couldn’t pick up a first down, but Vinatieri gave them the opening score.
The Steelers responded with a field goal of their own, and after a second Hasselbeck interception, added another.The opening quarter ended with the Colts on a long drive, but the nine-play march stalled at midfield and the Colts punted to start the second.
Stat to Know: The Colts started their first two drives at the 11 and 25 yard lines respectiely, and finished the quarter with three points.
Play of the Quarter:
Major playoff implications are at stake Sunday when the Colts head to Heinz Field.
Although we said the same thing last year, and it didn’t end up meaning much.
This year’s matchup has parallels to 2014, when the Steelers won 51-34. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 522 yards and a franchise-record 6 touchdowns, a record he tied last week in Seattle. Yes, the Steelers coming together at the perfect time yet again, but this year they will be without the dynamic element of Le’Veon Bell in the backfield.
The Steelers won last year, but the Colts had the last laugh. Pittsburgh was eliminated in the Wild Card round by their rival Baltimore, while Indianapolis advanced to the AFC Championship before losing the eventual champion New England.