To this point in the game, every advantage the Colts have gained through turnovers and good defensive/offensive plays has been cancelled out by self-inflicted wounds. Brian Hoyer has two throwing touchdowns, and has showed some patience in the pocket and his experience is easily noticeable, but he also forced the ball down the field to Jack Doyle and didn’t see Minkah Fitzpatrick who returned an interception for a touchdown.
When Hoyer threw his second touchdown, this time to Zach Pascal on a pretty throw that only he could catch, Adam Vinatieri failed to convert on the PAT — another missing point that could come back to haunt the Colts in the second half. On this play, the ball was kicked like a line drive, low and directly into the line making the block possible.
On the ensuing drive, the Colts defense held strong and was set to enter the locker room with a 16 - 10 lead only to have Darius Leonard make a silly decision to hit Vance McDonald late. The 15-yard penalty gave the Steelers the ball with a chance to make a field goal on an untimed down. The field goal cut the Colts lead in half.
There are a few observations to make in the first half and are worth montoring moving forward.
First, Jacoby Brissett may or may not return to the game. It appears he has been medically cleared but Hoyer was allowed to finish the drive and threw his second touchdown while Brissett stood on the sideline in his helmet.
Second, part of the reason Brissett may remain on the sideline is what occurred on the first Colts offensive drive. Cornerback Kenny Moore intercepted a Mason Rudolph pass intended for JuJu Smith-Schuster, which was tipped and returned for a nice gain. The Colts were in the driver’s seat and had a chance to capitalize on a short field.
In a goal to go situation, Brissett was sacked twice, once where he failed to get rid of the ball rolling to his right on a play where Deon Cain was wide open for 2-3 seconds at multiple points in his route. This vision limitation is what creates the greatest concern for Brissett. NFL quarterbacks who lead teams to wins have the ability to throw receivers open and make solid reads. Brissett struggles in this area.
Third, on the play where Brissett was injured, he threw a missile to Jordan Wilkins as a dump-off option. It was the type of no-touch pass that Brissett displayed regularly in 2017. Hopefully it is an aberration and nice a sign of regressing back to bad habits and a lack of touch on passes.
Fourth, Marlon Mack is jaw-dropping with the ball in his hands. Few running backs get as many extra yards as he does with jukes, spins, and patience behind his offensive line. He continues his breakout season.
Fifth, say what you want about volume stats for Colts linebackers, there has been a noticeable issue on containing plays on the edge or having the speed to run things down. Multiple long outside runs is partially due to failures at defensive end, even Jabaal Sheard, but it is also a failure of the linebackers to read, react, and beat the running back to the edge.
If the Colts can figure out how to stop shooting themselves in the foot. This should be another win. If they can’t, the Steelers will steal one at home.