The Pittsburgh Steelers continued their seesaw season, alternating wins and losses in each of the first seven games, with the most recent result emerging victorious. That would suggest a defeat, but then again so would the Indianapolis Colts and Andrew Luck, who commands arguably the best offense in the league right now.
Fortunately for the Steelers, they are at home for this game, where the offense has averaged 28 points per game, posting 30 points in two of their three home games played this season. The offensive performance on the road has left much to be desired, and would certainly face a seemingly impossible task of keeping pace with the Colts offense in Indianapolis.
Of course, there’s also the fact that the Colts’ defense has been playing surprisingly well, with some of their recent free agent acquisitions and draft picks turning up well in recent weeks.
The Steelers do have at their disposal the only teammates in the league averaging over 100 yards per game in wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell, around whom the offense is run. Brown, of course, has a 23-game streak of catching at least five passes for 50 yards, a testament to his consistency.
Bell, meanwhile, is second on the team in receptions and receiving yards, and just picked up his first receiving touchdown of his career last week. He is quickly becoming the second option in the passing game for the Steelers.
That unfortunately says as much about Bell’s growth as it does about the comparative growth from the Steelers’ wide receiving group behind Brown.
Second-year wide receiver Markus Wheaton emerged in the starting lineup this year and played well for the first several weeks, but has not been successful over the last three. He was targeted twice last week on third down and could not connect on either attempt.
The Steelers’ primary slot receiver, Justin Brown, was inactive last week, and figures to be so again today, after rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant had a promising debut, announcing his presence with a 35-yard touchdown on the first reception of his career.
Ben Roethlisberger took four shots down the field in his direction, and though they only connected on the one, he showed encouraging potential in that area. Yet to be exploited is his work in the short area of the field in the red zone. The rookie is supposedly skilled in this area, but it’s yet to be tested on the professional level.
Matt Spaeth played 25 snaps in the last game and performed quite well blocking against some elite competition. Quite frankly, the more he plays, the better, because it means Heath Miller will be running more routes and blocking less.
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley has spent some time getting creative in recent weeks with a couple flea flickers and wide receiver passes. I’ll be curious if he has anything else ready to unveil this evening.