The Pittsburgh Steelers fought back from two early fumbles by getting turnovers back themselves, and entered halftime with a 21-10 lead on the strength of two Ben Roethlisberger touchdown passes to Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton, as all three wide receivers, including Martavis Bryant, have flashed thus far, though the run game has been a bit of a slog.
the Indianapolis Colts struggled to execute on offense early on, but temporarily snared a 10-6 lead after a quality drive on which the Steelers only rushed three. Matt Hasselbeck ended that drive by finding Frank Gore in the end zone.
Of significant note is the fact that Jacoby Jones fumbled both a kick return and a punt return. He has fumbled three times now in four games with the Steelers, though two were able to be recovered. It’s hard to imagine he gets another chance.
The Colts open the second half with the ball after the Steelers chose to receiver to begin the game, which of course resulted in a lost fumble on the opening kickoff. Chris Boswell‘s kick was caught going out of bounds for a touchback. From the 20, Hasselbeck’s first pass was low and too early in a swing for Gore, incomplete. On second and 10, Gore was stopped after a three-yard gain. On third and long, Hasselbeck was under heavy pressure on third down, flushing out and trying to hit Griff Whalen, but Brandon Boykin scraped in front to interfere and force an incompletion.
Pat McAfee‘s punt traveled nearly 60 yards, with Antonio Brown back to return after Jones was ruled as “done” by Mike Tomlin during halftime, returned to the 25 for three yards. A short reception for DeAngelo Williams started the offensive half for Pittsburgh. He slipped a couple of tackles for a few yards on the ground on second down. On third and short, Martavis Bryant took the top off of coverage with Greg Toler for a 68-yard touchdown, his sixth receiving touchdown and seventh overall on the year. That made it 28-10.
A line-drive kickoff from Boswell set the Colts up at the 32 after the score. On first down, Hasselbeck floated a pass over Antwon Blake to T.Y. Hilton for 19. Dwayne Allen added five yards on the following throw. On second and five, Gore was stuffed at the line, setting up a third down. The pass was batted down at the line by Arthur Moats as Hasselbeck was run into by a lineman, who stayed down.
After a strong McAfee punt downed at the eight, Roethlisberger and the offense took over, looking to score for a fourth straight drive. His pass was just tipped after flushing out to his left for an incompletion. On second down, Williams picked up close to seven yards up the middle to make it a manageable third down. Roethlisberger went down for the sack, getting up and flexing his left leg. The Colts were flagged for a holding call, however, resulting in a first down and negating the sack.
Now at the 19, Williams was stopped after a three-yard gain. Williams hit the corner for the first down off the left side for 16. For a third straight carry, it was Williams, ripping off another double-digit gallop for 15 yards. Roethlisberger aired it out for his first throw since the hit, overthrowing Brown. On second down, it was back to Williams for another double-digit run as the running game is re-establishing itself after relative dormancy for two weeks.
Insert Fitzgerald Toussaint, called up from the practice squad last week, who picked up seven yards. From the 29, Toussaint was stopped for a loss of about one as Williams checked back in for third down. Roethlisberger looked for the bomb to Bryant incomplete as Boswell took the field to attempt a 47-yard field goal, which was wide right, the first-year kicker’s second miss of the season, currently 20 out of 22.
Hasselbeck took over from the 37, hitting Fleener for about six yards on first down. Gore evaded about three tackle for a big 34-yard gain, bad tackling effort. From the 23, a quick pass to Hilton went for seven. On second and three, Fleener was the target but covered well for an incompletion. On third down, after a delay of game, the Steelers showed blitz but dropped. Hasselbeck shoveled a pass but the Steelers held the Colts short to set up a fourth and one. He was flushed all the way to the right after tossing a desperation heave, which was first touched by Ross Cockrell and deflected out of bounds.
The turnover on downs gave Roethlisberger the ball back at the 15. Williams plowed ahead for three to start the drive. Facing the blitz, Roethlisberger just launched the ball to a spot off play action that fell incomplete. Now third and seven, Roethlisberger took off running to pick up the first down, rushing for 13 as he dove to the ground.
From the 31, it was Williams sidestepping a tackler in the backfield before cutting upfield for a five-yard gain. On the sweep, he followed up with four yards, but had the ball ripped out at the end of the run before recovering. He moved laterally to find the right hole to convert on third and one. To end the first half, Roethlisberger launched a deep strike to Brown, who hauled it in in tight coverage for a 48-yard gain.
On first and goal from the eight, Williams got the first touch for about three yards. Roethlisberger’s passed flew out of the back of the end zone. On third and goal, it was Brown cutting in front of the coverage for his first two-touchdown game of the season. The Steelers took a 25-point lead with Roethlisberger’s fourth touchdown pass in a 35-10 game.
The Colts started the next drive with excellent field position, however, following a 60-yard return, after which the returner fumbled forward. On top of that, Boswell’s tackle attempt drew a personal foul for an extra 15 yards, which resulted in a starting field position of the Steelers’ 27.
On first down, Gore gained about six yards up the middle. A quick out to Fleener picked up a first down inside the 15. After all that, however, the drive ended with a strip sack from James Harrison, with Vince Williams recovering the fumble.
Williams was stopped for a short gain of two yards on first down. He avoided a tackler in the backfield for about three to set up a third and six. Roethlisberger floated one for an easy completion to Bryant to move the chains, picking up 13 while the quarterback absorbed a hit.
Williams spun around a tackler for another gain of about six yards. A quick screen to Brown picked up the first down. Across midfield, Williams this time was finally brought down at the line of scrimmage. In response, he wriggled free for an 18-yard run and another first down as the clock wound down.
Toussaint checked back in and plowed his way forward for three yards. The first-year back added another three to set up a third down as Williams checked back in. Roethlisberger went to the end zone for Bryant, but the big receiver could not handle the lofting pass, which was catchable and could have been a touchdown. Boswell’s third field goal of the game made it 38-10.
The Colts returner tried to make a running snare of the kickoff but fumbled, scooping it up and handling it shakily afterward before being tackled at the 13 by Blake. Hasselbeck was ruled out for the rest of the game, with Charlie Whitehurst entering. His first throw was caught for six yards by the running back. On second and four, Herron was tripped up short of the first. On third and one, it was Harrison the first to latch on for the stop. The only problem is that Brown returned the ensuing punt about 70 yards for the score.
Harrison picked up his second sack of the game, this one on Whitehurst, for a loss of five. After a five-yard draw, Whitehurst completed on fourth down, and a missed tackle from Brandon Boykin enabled the Colts to keep the drive alive. Harrison nearly intercepted the following pass.
On second down, a check down to Herron picked up a chunk for third and three. Whalen was good over the middle for the first down at the two-minute warning. On first and goal, it was Harrison for the third time of the game with the sack, his first three-sack game in…a while. Whitehurst only narrowly got the ball out to avoid another sack. On third and goal, it was Arthur Moats with the sack. Whitehurst’s final pass fell incomplete, resulting in a turnover on downs that enabled the Steelers to run out the clock.