The Pittsburgh Steelers rode a 24-point flurry at the end of the first half to a seven-point victory over the Houston Texans last week to bring them back over .500. Now they’re looking to accomplish something they’ve failed to do yet in seven games–deliver back-to-back victories. It won’t be easy, as the Indianapolis Colts and their top-ranked passing offense are in Heinz Field to stand in their way.
The Cincinnati Bengals are on the verge of giving the Baltimore Ravens their first loss in several weeks, dropping then to 5-3 on the season, while the Bengal improve to 4-2-1. If the Steelers do come out victorious, they could be right in the thick of the race for the division lead.
The Steelers lost the coin toss and the Colts chose to receive. Andrew Luck hit Ahmad Bradshaw for 10 yards, when he carried for five yards. On the third play of the drive, T.Y. Hilton escaped two carries for an explosive play down to the 20. After five yards from Bradshaw, Sean Spence tackled Dan Herron after a short gain to set up a third down. Luck’s pass was high and fell incomplete off of Hakeem Nicks‘ hand. Adam Vinatieri made it 3-0 early.
Ben Roethlisberger took the field for the 150th time, looking for his 100th victory. On first down, Le’Veon Bell got the handoff and worked up the middle for four yards. Martavis Bryant‘s first reception of the game was not enough to move the chains, but Bell converted on third and short.
Roethlisberger went back to Bryant for 19 yards after the conversion. Across midfeild now, Bell took the handoff up the middle again for three yards. Heath Miller sat down in the zone and caught his first target for another first down. Markus Wheaton caught his first pass of the game for nine yards as LeGarrette Blount secured the first down. Roethlisberger went to Wheaton again in the end zone for 18 yards and a touchdown, taking an early 7-3 lead.
Ryan Shazier closed in well on first down to bring down a screen pass for no gain. On second down, Troy Polamalu blitzed and forced Luck into a bad pass. On third and 10, Luck felt the pressure again and threw the ball out of bounds, forcing a three-and-out. Antonio Brown had little room to run, and Arthur Moats was flagged for holding, backing the Steelers up and neutralizing whatever field position advantage they would have gained.
Back on offense, Bell once again worked up the middle for three yards. On second and seven, he found a seam for about 10 yards. After another three yards, Roethlisberger threw his first incomplete pass of the game to set up a third and seven. Roethlisberger pitched to Bell for 12 yards for the conversion. Miller was flagged for holding on first down. On first and 20 now, a screen to Blount went for just three yards. On second and 17, Lance Moore was found down the field for 27 yards and inside the 30-yard line.
Bell found room up the middle for about 11 yards with Roethlisberger faking a throw. After three yards on first down inside the 20, Moore’s reception was good for seven yards. On first and goal, Bell spun around a tackler for three yards to close out the first quarter. Roethlisberger went to Bryant from five yards out for the easy touchdown, giving the Steelers a 14-3 lead with 15:03 gone in the game.
Luck took over from the 23. On first down, he barely got the pass off to Herron for five yards. William Gay jumped the route on second down for the pick six. The Steelers lead 21-3 16 minutes into the game.
Antwon Blake came up to make the special teams tackle short of the 15 on the ensuing kickoff. Bradshaw had to fight and claw for one yard on first down. On second and nine from the 15, Polamalu and Vince Williams caught Bradshaw on the screen pass after about sex yards for a third and three. The third down pass was tipped, but offsetting penalties forced a replay of the down. On third and three part two, Luck found rookie Donte Moncrief as the Steelers lost him coming across the middle, showing great speed up the sideline for a lone gain.
Lawrence Timmons plowed into Luck on the first down play, but Cortez Allen was flagged for illegal hands to the face. Daniel McCullers smothered Bradshaw after a short gain on first down. Luck found his tight end Dwayne Allen over Timmons for his sixth touchdown of the year on the next play, cutting the lead to 21-10.
After a return to the 12 from Blount, Roethlsiberger looked to Brown on first down for 14 yards. Dri Archer dropped a screen pass as he started to run with it before securing the ball. On second and 10, however, Roethlisberger hit Bryant deep down the field down to the 21. Bell was stopped for no gain on first down. Bell caught the ball for eight yards on second down. On third and short, Blount came up a yard shy of the first down. Shaun Suisham‘s field goal was good, but the Colts were flagged for offsides.
The Steelers were now given first and goal after the penalty. Roethlisberger went to Brown on first and goal, and he caught it for the eight-yard score with the one-handed sideline snare. The Steelers grabbed a 28-10 lead.
Jason Worilds got in front of a Luck screen pass on first down to tip it down. On second down, Moncrief hauled in a short pass before being brought down by Polamalu. On third and six, Luck barely escaped a Brett Keisel sack to throw the ball away as the Steelers forced another three-and-out.
Will Johnson picked up 18 yards on a screen on first down. Bell took the dump off pass for eight yards on the following play, but took himself off the field after the tackle. On second and two, Johnson got his head turned around just as the ball arrived in his chest for the conversion. After picking up the early rush, Roethlisberger scrambled to the right and found Brown breaking free down the field for the long 47-yard touchdown.
After a touchback, Bradshaw picked up five yards on first down. James Harrison came off the right side for the sack, knocking the ball loose, but the Colts recovered. On third and 11, however, Hakeem Nicks got over Allen for the first down. Bradshaw bounced off a couple tacklers for another first down across midfield. Allen was beaten deep by Moncrief, but recovered late to contest the ball for an incompletion. On second down, following a delay of game, Luck was hit as he threw for an incompletion. On third and 15, Luck was forced to scramble and nearly got to the first down, but the Steelers were flagged for holding for an automatic first down. From the 28, Hilton got free from Allen for a far too easy touchdown to cut the lead to 28-17.
Roethlisberger quickly went to Brown for six yards on first down. Miller converted the first down on the second play. From the 36, Bell caught the pass and got out of bounds after six yards. Roethlisberger found Brown down the field for 18 yards and the Steelers called a timeout with 56 seconds remaining. Ben and Bryant were not on the same page on first down. Bell picked up another six yards on a short pass to set up third and four. The cornerback broke up the third down pass. Roethlisberger attempted to punt the ball, but it was blocked, and the Colts recovered at the 35.
Williams made the tackle on the tight end after a short gain on first down. Luck found Hilton for 39 yards down to the 22 with 20 seconds remaining. He scrambled for 13 yards to set up first and goal with 12 seconds left. The first down pass was sent out of bounds with nothing open. With seven seconds left, Luck was hit as he threw. One second left, Vinatieri’s field goal made it 35-20.