So folks, how was your Thanksgiving? Any awkward conversations? Hopefully the Pittsburgh Steelers will give us something positive to talk about for the coming week by the end of the day, as they look to be in good position for a win against a Luckless Indianapolis Colts team. The Steelers have five players down due to injury, but nobody of great significance. Meanwhile, the Colts are without both Andrew Luck and Clayton Geathers, while Vontae Davis is active working through an ankle injury.
Steelers Inactive Players:
QB Zach Mettenberger
T Brian Mihalik
S Shamarko Thomas
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
RB DeAngelo Williams
TE Xavier Grimble
RB Daryl Richardson
Colts Inactive Players
QB Andrew Luck
S Clayton Geathers
C Austin Blythe
LB Curt Maggitt
LB Deon King
T Le’Raven Clark
DL Zach Kerr
Multiple beat writers on The Twitters are saying that they anticipate the coaching staff intends to try to reintroduce Sammie Coates into the offense after sparsely playing in recent weeks. The Steelers have been hurting without a true number two target at the wide receiver position.
The Steelers won the coin toss and, as they did last week, deferred to the second half. As usual, the game began with a touchback. From the 25, play action resulted in a sack on a William Gay blitz, who stripped the ball out as he reached back. The Colts recovered for a 10-yard loss. On second down, Scott Tolzien‘s first pass attempt was over everybody’s head, though Sean Davis may have had a chance of intercepting it. On third down, Javon Hargrave stayed with the running back on a screen and tackled him for a loss. Punting on fourth and 25, Antonio Brown fair caught the ball near midfield.
Sending five wide on first down, Ben Roethlisberger found Le’Veon Bell on first down for a short gain. On second and eight, Roosevelt Nix with the lead block helped open up the left side for nine yards. Fitzgerald Toussaint checked in on the next play and got the carry, but was tackled behind the line of scrimmage. On second and 10, a bubble screen to Brown was stopped for a short gain to set up third and long. Roethlisberger found Eli Rogers in the open field, running after the catch for 30 yards to set up first and goal.
From the eight, Bell picked up three yards up the middle to the five. On second down, Bell bounced to the outside for the score, his third rushing touchdown in as many weeks, securing what I believe is the Steelers’ first touchdown on their opening drive of the season. The extra point made it a 7-0 lead.
Following another touchback, Frank Gore got the carry on first down for a yard. He stepped through for three on second down. On third and six, Tolzien found Dwayne Allen in front of Lawrence Timmons for the first down for the Colts’ first conversion. Stephon Tuitt and Hargrave made the tackle on Gore after a yard on the following play. Tolzien’s deep pass to Donte Moncrief looked to be off-target for an incompletion. On third and long, T.Y. Hilton got away from Gay for downfield yardage and the conversion.
Down to the 38, Gore was bottled up at the line of scrimmage. A pass over the middle to Allen went for nine to set up third and short. James Harrison crashed through a shifting line and was able to get the sack off a play-action pass attempt for a loss of five. The Colts missed wide right on a 52-yard field goal attempt after the sack.
Taking over from the Colts’ 42, Bell got the carry on first down, making a cut for about four yards. He got to the right edge for first-down yardage. From the other 42, Roethlisberger very nearly took a sack before getting the ball out for an incompletion. A block on the edge from Rogers helped Bell add 11 yards to his total. Down to the 30, Roethlisberger went to the end zone for Brown, but the ball was taken by the defensive back, not before going out of bounds. A short pass to Bell for four yards followed. On third and five, Roethlisberger hit Brown on a beautiful back-shoulder throw for the touchdown. The Steelers have now scored touchdowns on their first two drives.
Jordan Todman ran the ensuing kickoff beyond midfield. From the 47, Gore was stopped near the line of scrimmage. Bud Dupree made his first tackle of the season from behind after a short reception to end the first quarter. On third and six, Timmons let a deep ball bounce off him for what should have been another interception. Pat McAfee, however, rolled out and threw to his tight end. Jordan Dangerfield just missed breaking up the pass. The conversion set up first and goal.
On the Wildcat for Gore, the Colts picked about two to the six. Tolzien threw a low pass to Moncrief, who was able to secure it off the turf for the touchdown. So the gadget play worked and the Colts were able to cut the Steelers’ early lead in half.
A six-yarder to Rogers was built on by a five-yard run for a first down by Bell to the 36. He got the draw carry for about three on the following play. Roethlisberger threw an ill-advised deep pass to Brown on second down that was nearly intercepted. Brown drew an offensive pass interference flag on the play. On second and 16, Bell was given the draw for about three yards to set up third and extra long. Roethlisberger floated a ball over the top to Ladarius Green for a big, key conversion.
From the 35 after the 32-yard completion, Toussaint checked back in to pick up about a yard or two up the middle. Off play action, Roethlisberger dropped the bomb in the back of the end zone to Brown, who hauled in his second touchdown of the game. The Steelers reclaimed a two-touchdown lead with a 21-7 score.
From the 22, Ross Cockrell was flagged for defensive pass interference on a deep ball initially, but the flag was picked up. On second down, Anthony Chickillo stopped Gore for no gain. Tolzien was forced to scramble on third down, short of the first down. McAfee’s punt was fielded by Brown just outside the 20-yard line.
From the 23, Roethlisberger threw a deep ball to Sammie Coates, but he had to slow down for it, and the cornerback broke up the ball. He was off-target for Green on second down. On third and 10, he found Brown for the first, but an illegal hands to the face on Green negated the play. Now on third and 20, Roethlisberger went underneath to Brown, who just got back to the original line of scrimmage to try to help the field position battle. Jordan Berry‘s first punt of the game from the 22 was fielded inside the 20, but returned for a healthy gain. The Colts were flagged for illegal formation, however, negating the return. On the second punt, Berry struck it with hang time, but lackluster distance, fair caught at the Colts’ 37.
Hilton beat Cockrell off the line of scrimmage on what could have been a 63-yard touchdown, but he juggled the ball trying to bring it in and lost it for a drop. A completion toe Allen picked up nine and a half. On third short-yardage play, Gore got the yardage and more untouched for five yards through a hole on the left side.
Cockrell was in coverage on the tight end that caught the punt throw, helping force an incompletion. On second down, heavy pressure force Tolzien to get rid of the ball, but Timmons was flagged for roughing the passer. Now from the 33, Hargrave and Shazier dropped Gore for a loss. On second and 11, Tolzien hit Hilton down the field to set up first and goal. Mike Mitchell tackled Hilton on the play and injured both players.
On first and goal, a quick snap did not lead to catching the defense off guard, stopping it for no gain. Gore very nearly got in on second down, dragging himself over the pile, with Shazier making initial contact. Tolzien ran a bootleg looking to get into the end zone, but Davis was there to stop him one on one short of the goal line. It technically goes down as a sack. On fourth and goal, Mitchell was there to make the hit on the receiver trying to bring in a high pass in the end zone. The ball was actually thrown to the right of the receiver.
From the one-yard line, Bell got the carry on first down to pick up about two yards as the Colts used their second timeout with under a minute to play in the half. He broke free for a nice gain on second down, but David DeCastro was flagged for holding, setting up half the distance to the goal. On second and nine, Bell was able to break off another nice little gain for about seven or eight up the middle. On third and one, Bell punched through for the first down, but simply to end the half. The Steelers start the second half with the ball.