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‘We’ve Got To Get Better There’: Mike Tomlin Blames Kick Coverage As ‘Catalyst’ For Colts’ 2nd-Half Comeback

The Pittsburgh Steelers held a 13-point lead going into halftime, yet still needed a game-winning drive to come out victorious against a team with a losing record. Not great, and head coach Mike Tomlin pointed his finger at one particular area for helping to get that tide flowing in the wrong direction.

“Our kickoff unit has got to be better”, he said Monday night in his post-game press conference, via the team’s YouTube. “I thought that was a catalyst for whatever got started with them in the second half, the field position component of it was a big negative. We’ve got to get better there. The field positioning was a negative in that aspect of the game. That’s what jumped out at me”.

And of course it was. The Indianapolis Colts’ last play before halftime was getting a field goal blocked by Isaiahh Loudermilk to keep it 16-3. It was a 59-yard attempt, anyway, so there’s no telling if it would have been good or not, anyway.

But their next play? An 89-yard kick return that put them on the Steelers’ 19-yard line. And the most galling aspect of the play is the fact that Indianapolis only returned that kick because Pittsburgh gave them reason to believe they could. Matthew Wright put that ball eight yards deep into the end zone. You don’t see too many of those returned these days.

And yet they did. Why? Because they were finding success in the return game throughout the day. Sure, nothing so dramatic as that play, which they nearly broke all the way for a touchdown if not for Connor Heyward and James Pierre. On another return, Wright himself had to make the tackle.

And it won’t surprise you to learn, in case you happened to miss the game, that the Colts quickly scored after a few short plays following that 89-yard kick return. Fortunately, they only had to execute one more kickoff, and they handled it well, but it’s notable that, again, Dallis Flowers, Indianapolis’ return man, returned it from four yards deep.

Obviously that one long kick return was a huge deal in the second half, which provided a spark for the Colts that they were able to ride through a good portion of the third and fourth quarters. It was enough, after all, to give them the lead temporarily. But it was really just that one play.

Pressley Harvin III and the punting unit did a good job in the second half, not allowing a return. He had a good day overall, minus a touchback, with two inside the 20. The Colts had 225 kick return yards on five kicks, however, even if they didn’t have success on punt returns.

It just so happened that special teams ace Miles Boykin was unavailable for this game, by the way. I’m not saying, I’m just saying.

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