The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to move ahead to 4-4 on the season following today’s narrow victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Should they have? It’s fair to argue that they shouldn’t. But the thing is, those things don’t matter. A win counts the same no matter how it’s achieved, and this team has put together three in a row, including a win now against a quality team.
Interestingly, the win also knocks the Colts to Wildcard status, falling to 5-3 behind the Houston Texans, and the Steelers obviously have the head-to-head tiebreaker, so they are now one game back for the sixth seed, if I’m not mistaken. Should the Baltimore Ravens fall to the New England Patriots, they will also be a game back for the AFC North lead.
And it took quite a bit of luck…perhaps some absence of Luck as well…to get there. But they actually didn’t even have to beat Jacoby Brissett. Suffering a knee injury in the red zone in the first half, Brian Hoyer replaced him and threw a few touchdown passes, though he also threw a 96-yard pick six to Minkah Fitzpatrick, who has been very much worth the first-round pick the Steelers gave up for him.
Many things didn’t go Pittsburgh’s way in this one, including the standard for challenging of pass interference. On the Colts’ final drive, Steven Nelson was flagged for pass interference on third and 10 in their own territory, but the ball was clearly and significantly uncatchable. Nevertheless, the call stood.
That ultimately set up a 43-yard Adam Viniatieri field goal attempt that was shanked wide left after the holder spun the laces right into the kick. The Steelers also blocked an extra point attempt and Terrell Edmunds broke up a two-point attempt, with Chris Boswell making four field goals, so special teams was a big deal in this one.
This is the first win against a quality opponent the Steelers have gotten all year. It can certainly be debates as to whether or not it was deserved. The Colts are a team who had been avoiding many unforced errors all season, but they had several throughout this game, the luck going Pittsburgh’s way often enough—including in the late, most critical moment—to give them the win.
There were plenty of highlights, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, especially pertaining to the dynamic rushing duo of T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, who combined had three and a half sacks. They have continued to take the ball away, even against teams who don’t turn the ball over.
This team doesn’t have to be great if they can be opportunistic, but they have to do that consistently. The breaks went the other way in the first quarter of the season. Now as we turn to the second half of the schedule, is the luck spinning the other way, with the Steelers suddenly in the thick of the playoff race?