For a brief quarter Pittsburgh appeared to be in trouble, then the offense found it’s stride, the defense rose up strong in the red zone, and the Pittsburgh Steelers spanked the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football, 45-10.
Jacoby Jones, in what will surely be his curtain call in a Steelers uniform (thank God), fumbled the opening kick simply running up the field with it, and Indianapolis recovered at the Pittsburgh 11 to begin the game. The Steelers defense came up huge however, as Jarvis Jones intercepted Matt Hasselbeck on 3rd down to end the threat.
DeAngelo Williams proceeded to give the ball right back by fumbling away the game’s third turnover at the Pittsburgh 25 just 2:35 into the game. The Colts couldn’t manage a first down however, settling for a 35-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Pittsburgh quickly countered, stalling out after a ten-play drive and sending out Chris Boswell for a 29-yard boot to tie the game up at three apiece with 5:30 left in the first quarter.
After Will Allen sacked Hasselbeck to put Indy in a 3rd-and-15, the quarterback had his pass deflected by William Gay high enough that Brandon Boykin was able to make an exceptional diving interception for the defenses’s second takeaway.
The Pittsburgh offense couldn’t get rolling again, failing to pick up a first down and settling for a Boswell 51-yard triple. The teams exchanged punts before Indianapolis drove down the field on a four-play, 46-yard possession capped by Hasselbeck finding Gore from nine yards out for a 10-6 lead.
Finally the Pittsburgh offense came alive, mounting a 10-play, 80-yard drive capped by Ben Roethlisberger’s seven-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown. The Steelers made it 14-10 when Will Johnson made a bread-basket grab in the back of the end zone for a successful two-point conversion.
Jacoby Jones muffed the ensuing Colts punt, but Darrius Heyward-Bey miraculously recovered at the bottom of a pileup, setting up the Pittsburgh offense for one more scoring drive. Roethlisberger found Markus Wheaton twice on the drive for 18 and 27 yards, before connecting once more on third down from five yards out on a back-shoulder pivot at the goal line for a 21-10 halftime lead.
It was all downhill from there for Indianapolis, as the Pittsburgh offense struck again early in the second half when Roethlisberger found Martavis Bryant down the right sideline for a 68-yard bomb and a 28-10 lead.
The Colts punted on their next possession, but Pittsburgh failed to extend their lead when Boswell missed a 47-yard try with 6:13 left in the third quarter. The Colts looked like they would cut into the Steelers lead, but Ross Cockrell broke up Hasselbeck’s fourth down throw from the Steelers 14-yard line to preserve the 18-point advantage.
Roethlisberger didn’t waste time putting the game away, launching a pass deep for Brown, who blew by double coverage for a 48-yard grab to the Indy eight. Three plays later, again on third down, Roethlisberger rifled a pass to Brown for the quarterback’s fourth touchdown pass of the game and a 35-10 lead.
Indianapolis again looked like they would strike back after a big kickoff return by Quan Bray, but Hasselbeck was strip-sacked by James Harrison at the Steelers 14 with 12:59 left in the fourth quarter, and Vince Williams pounced on the fumble. DeAngelo Williams rumbled his way into field position for Boswell to redeem himself with a 42-yard boot, extending the Pittsburgh lead to 38-10.
Brown drove the knife into the coffin with an electrifying 71-yard punt return for a touchdown, capped by an ill-advised, full-speed, leaping straddle of the goal post that his future children may not appreciate very much. Boswell’s extra point made it 45-10 Pittsburgh with four minutes remaining, improving the Steelers to 7-5 on the season.
Harrison added two more sacks on the Colts final drive, completing the hat trick and adding to the team total of five for the evening. Indianapolis was just 3-14 on 3rd down, and managed just 240 yards to Pittsburgh’s 522. The Steelers also won the turnover battle, 3-2. The Colts were an incredible 1-6 in the red zone, while Pittsburgh finished at 3-4.
Roethlisberger threw for 364 yards and four scores, enjoying another fantastic day against Indianapolis. Brown and Bryant were the primary benefactors, going for 118 yards and 114 yards, respectively. Wheaton’s three grabs for 50 yards and a touchdown continued to show his improved chemistry with Roethlisberger, while Jesse James added three catches for 30 yards filling in for the injured Heath Miller. DeAngelo Williams was fantastic yet again, toting the rock 26 times for 134 yards.
The Steelers schedule doesn’t get any easier, as they will host Cincinnati next Sunday, trying to avenge their 16-10 loss from earlier in the season.