On the Steelers first drive of the game, Indianapolis was rewarded with Desir in man coverage deep down the field on Martavis Bryant. He maintains coverage stride-for-stride and has his head around early enough to make a play on the ball. It’s very encouraging to see Desir continue his strong play for a third straight week.
Through the end of the first quarter, the Colts defense had done everything right. Bell was limited on the ground, Brown was limited, and man coverage created a turnover. The Steelers best offense relied on check downs and attacking the middle of the field. The only downside is that the Colts offense struggled as well, with Gore doing well on the ground but the lone deep shot to Hilton missed and short pass to Chester Rogers was called back due to a holding call on Jack Doyle.
Jacoby Brissett changed all of that quickly in the second quarter with a bomb to Donte Moncrief for a touchdown. Colts took the lead 0-7.
Another player who played a big role in helping the defense limit the Steelers is Jabaal Sheard. He continued to do a great job of collapsing the pocket. He also played an important role in setting the edge and limiting Le’Veon Bell. He picked up where he left off against the Texans in the first half.
Brissett and the Colts offense were able to put together another scoring drive in the second quarter that featured a lot of different players. Marlon Mack picked up a first down on the sideline. Jack Doyle had an important catch to keep the ball moving. T.Y. Hilton made a catch to put Adam Vinatieri into better position for a field goal. Colts added to their lead 0-10.
The biggest story of the first half has to be a Colts defense that no one would have been able to predict. There were important first half contributions from Pierre Desir, Jabaal Sheard, Antonio Morrison, and Jon Bostic. Two of those four players were maligned by much of the fan base coming into the game, one is starting his third game at cornerback, and Sheard has really started to come into his own — which has been important without John Simon.
Indianapolis closed out an impressive first half of defense by forcing the Steelers into a third and long. Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for only his second catch of the day. Pittsburgh hit a field goal to cut the lead to 3-10 going into the half.
Indianapolis came into the second half and tried to establish Frank Gore on the ground again. After the first carry went for 9 yards, the second carry lost 5. Just when it started to feel like it has so many times before, that the Colts were becoming predictable, something different happened. Jacoby Brissett came to the line on 3rd and 6 and made a nice adjustment with Jack Doyle to put a body on an inside blitz. This gave him all the time he needed to find Chester Rogers for another long touchdown, pushing the Colts lead to its largest at 3-17.
Although the Colts defense did force a long drive that took a lot of time and didn’t give up big plays, the Steelers were able to take their first possession of the second half down the field for a touchdown. Le’Veon Bell started to get things going on the ground and after trading penalties in the red zone, Roethlisberger was able to hit JuJu Smith-Schuster for a touchdown. Colts defensive lineman Margus Hunt blocked the extra point, however, and it was nearly returned by Matthias Farley for 2 points, as he was tackled inside the Steelers 5 yard line. Steelers cut into the lead 9-17.
On the Colts second offensive drive, it was easy to feel like the team settled in for conservative play-calling with hopes of running out the clock. This team has blown second half leads numerous times this season going conservative way too early. To this point, big plays have been what has resulted in Colts points. If they don’t make adjustments to abuse the Steelers, who started playing more aggressive to generate pressure on the edges, it would be too easy to let another one slip away.
After T.J. Green has a moronic penalty, which negates a great special teams play to down the ball at the Steelers one yard line, the defense holds and Matthias Farley stick JuJu Smith-Schuster to dislodge him from the ball and force Pittsburgh to punt the ball back to the Colts. Green refused to step out of the spotlight on the punt having another negative impact on field position. This time he was called for holding and pushed the Colts back on the punt return.
As has been the case all season, the Colts try to throw a garbage third down dump-off to Jack Doyle even though the block required did not allow a clean release. Doyle was unable to hold onto it and it results in a tipped ball interception that put the Steelers in a first and goal situation at the 10 yard line. After a Bell run to the right and an incomplete pass that was nearly picked off by Pierre Desir in the end zone, the Colts were unable to generate any pass rush and Roethlisberger was able to hit a wide open Vance McDonald who got lost in coverage. After calling a timeout and taking a delay of game penalty on a two point conversation attempt, Roethlisberger was able to find Martavis Bryant to tie the game at 17.
The Colts offensive coordinator continued a deplorable second half game plan. Outside of the first offensive drives in the second half in games, the unit is almost always super conservative. There is not response for corner blitzes and edge pressure. The only attempt was a horrible pass that Brissett should have ever thrown to Doyle that ended up as an interception. At this point, the offense is losing the team the game and the defense will need to make a big play if the Colts have any chance to win.
True to form, the defense stayed strong and stopped a Steelers drive from getting into the end zone. Instead, Pittsburgh had to settle for a field goal try and Chris Boswell missed the try to keep the score tied at 17.
After another offensive drive stalled without generating any points, allowing too much pressure on Brissett along with routes that took too much time to develop, the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to drive the ball down the field, aided by long completions to Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, to hit a last second field goal and win the game 20-17.
Final Score Steelers 20 - Colts 17