The Pittsburgh Steelers are down 21-7, and the first half was similar to the last few weeks where a big play or two undermined the defense’s otherwise good efforts and the offense failed to get anything going. The Indianapolis Colts will get the ball to start the second half and any points they get will make it a three possession game which is bad news for the Steelers.
The Colts first play of the half was a rush for about five yards. The next play, Mo Alie-Cox wide open in the flat after he chipped a block in at the line of scrimmage. The end around on 1st down for another chunk pickup of about 8.
Driving down the field with ease so far. Jonathan Taylor up the middle through a wide open hole as he dragged multiple tacklers with him for several yards. The Colts are in the red zone now. On first down, incomplete intended for Zach Pascal.
On 2nd down, Jonathan Taylor up the middle through a semi-truck sized hole. Avery Williamson thought it was a pass play. Stephon Tuitt and TJ Watt in for the sack on 3rd down. The chip shot field goal got a little shorter after an encroachment call. T.J. Watt shaken up a bit on the sack. Walked off gingerly.
The field goal was good. 24-7 Colts.
The kickoff was perfectly in the corner outside of the end zone and Ray-Ray McCloud with a nice return. Unfortunately there was a holding call on the Steelers, so they start at the twenty yard line. The first play was a gain of eight, followed up by the first down pickup by Benny Snell.
Ben Roethlisberger rolled out on first down and hit Eric Ebron for another first down pickup. Chase Claypool with another first down pickup with a tough catch in traffic.
Ben Roethlisberger pushed the ball down the field to Chase Claypool who had a step on his defender going deep across the middle of the field.
Eric Ebron found the soft spot of the zone for another 1st down. The Steelers are at around the 6 yard line in scoring position. Pass interference on the throw into the end zone, so another fresh set of downs near the 3 yard line.
Benny Snell with the run off the right tackle stopped at the line of scrimmage. On 2nd and goal, Ben in shotgun and nearly picked off intended for Eric Ebron. Ebron was held a bit on the route, but it wasn’t called.
Chase Claypool on the immediate slant, it appeared that he had caught the touchdown, but he dropped the ball. The Steelers going for it on fourth down. Another instance of not being able to get a yard. Ben tried to hit James Washington in the flat, but T.J. Carrie broke up the pass with a nice play. Turnover on downs. 5 plays to get 1 yard, and the Steelers failed. The story of the second half of this season.
Pinned back on their own 2 yard line, the Colts ran on first down and lost about a yard. Tough spot here for the Colts. A safety would be helpful here. The Colts called their first timeout.
Philip Rivers went deep left to TY Hilton along the left sideline, but it fell incomplete with Steven Nelson in tight coverage. On 3rd down, the Colts went with a screen pass and bought their punter a little space operating from the back of the end zone.
The punt was returned by Ray-Ray McCloud for about 10 yards, but he was hit hard and fumbled. Sean Davis recovered the fumble, so the Steelers will start at the Colts 39 yard line. This is excellent starting field position and must be capitalized on.
The first play of the drive, Ben Roethlisberger hit Diontae Johnson for a 39 yard touchdown. Diontae Johnson dove out for the catch in the end zone. 24-14 Colts.
Avery Williamson blitzed and immediately brought Philip Rivers down for a big loss of yardage on the sack. The next play, the ball fell incomplete as Stephon Tuitt delivered another hard hit to Rivers. The third down play was well short, so the Colts punt resulting in the ball at the 25 yard line. Diontae Johnson was back for this punt, maybe punishment for the McCloud fumble.
Johnson appeared to limp off the field a bit after the punt return.
A deep ball to Diontae Johnson and the penalty flag was called. Diontae Johnson’s ankle aggravated again on the play. He might need to sit out the rest of the contest, or at least take a drive or two to evaluate.
Chase Claypool caught the ball for about 5 yards, but gathered himself back to try to find a lane for more and gave up the yardage. Only picked up about one yard.
END OF QUARTER 3 — 24-14 Colts
Diontae Johnson is back out there, and ran a deep route. Another defensive pass interference for the defender in coverage against him. The Steelers have a 1st and goal from the five yard line. Eric Ebron for the touchdown to make it a three point game. 24-21 Colts.
Stephon Tuitt batted the ball at the line of scrimmage on 1st down. TJ Watt had a chance to intercept the ball, but wasn’t quite able.
Will Holden, who was already filling in at left tackle, appears to be down injured. They will be on their 4th string at this point with a fill-in at the other tackle position as well. Quenton Nelson might have to bump out to tackle here.
J’Marcus Webb, a practice squad elevation, is now in at tackle. Cameron Heyward with the big 3rd down sack as Philip Rivers rolled out to escape pressure. The Steelers receive the punt at about the 16 yard line. The Steelers have the ball down three with twelve minutes to go. Plenty of time to eat away here, but the Steelers aren’t really capable of chewing up clock. It would be great to score quickly here.
James Conner picked up a first down with a run up the middle. The very next play, Eric Ebron for 10 yards against his former team for another first down.
The success of the deep ball has now opened up a lot for the Steelers offense. They are now finding some running success and some underneath route success. The deep ball is opening up everything.
The Steelers were called for a false start, so will have 2nd and 15. The next play, Ben was able to hit James Conner short in the middle of the field for a 10 yard pickup on the screen to make it 3rd and manageable.
James Conner with the swing route to the left for the easy first down conversion. A couple incompletions and right back to 3rd and 10. One of the Colts’ defensive backs made illegal contact with a receiver about 8 yards downfield for an automatic first down.
Ben finding his deep ball once again, this time to Juju Smith-Schuster. Touchdown and the Steelers take the lead. 28-24 Steelers.
After a few short gains for the Colts, Mike Hilton ran the route for the receiver and caught it over his shoulder for the interception. Big time play!
On first down, Ben went to Vance McDonald in the middle for five yards. Ben got hit as he delivered the pass.
The underneath route offense is operating as it is supposed to now that the Colts are respecting other facets of the offense. 3rd and 1 here, as Juju Smith-Schuster received the pass on the RPO. The clock is ticking down towards the 2:00 warning. The Steelers ran with James Conner and the Colts called a timeout to prevent the 2:00 warning from ticking down.
After one more Steelers play, the Colts called their third and final timeout. Regardless of what happens here, the Colts will be in a tough position. Surely enough, Diontae Johnson stopped one yard shy of the first down. The referees called him out of bounds to stop the clock, so the Colts have 2:18, no timeouts, and a two minute warning to try and score a touchdown to win the game.
The wrong call by the refs in essence bought the Colts three free plays and 16 yards prior to the two minute warning.
3rd and 6 after the break, but this is four down territory for Indianapolis. Philip Rivers off target on an out route to Trey Burton to bring up 4th down. The 4th down pass was intercepted by Steven Nelson undercutting the route, but he was called for pass interference. The Colts get a fresh set of downs with 1:44 to go.
The Steelers just need to defend the big play, no need to start sending the blitz yet. Minkah Fitzpatrick broke up the 2nd down pass. 3rd and 6 again for the Colts, but they convert with a wide open TY Hilton. The Steelers still only sending four on the blitz, but might consider ramping up the pressure.
Another third and long coming here, this time Rivers threw deep to TY Hilton who tripped up on Terrell Edmunds. 4th and long for the game. The ball fell incomplete and the Steelers get the ball. Alex Highsmith in pressure on the 4th down pass which caused the ball to be slightly off target.
This was the biggest second half comeback of Mike Tomlin’s tenure as head coach of the Steelers.
FINAL — 28-24 Steelers.