The Colts lost a very winnable game against a hobbled Steelers team on the road. Despite dealing with plenty of injuries themselves, the Colts found themselves in a position to win the game on a 43 yard kick by Adam Vinatieri. Instead, the snap, the hold and the kick were simply awful, and Indy is now 5-3.
MVPs of the Game: Zach Pascal and Justin Houston
On offense and special teams, Zach Pascal continues to impress me. As a receiver, he caught 5 passes for 76 yards and a beautiful score, and he once again was excellent as a blocker. On special teams, he recovered a crucial Parris Campbell fumble on the drive that ended in a Colts touchdown. It is really weird to think about how Pascal was on the chopping block in Training Camp and now he is one of the best players in the Colts roster.
On defense, Justin Houston just keeps on proving Ballard right by making clutch plays, seemingly in every game. This time, he strip-sacked Mason Rudolph in the end zone forcing a safety, and also recovered a fumble late in the fourth quarter. Houston has been balling out since the Chiefs game and has become one of the Colts best defensive players.
Honorable Mention: Brian Hoyer
Dud of the Game (The Grigsy): Darius Leonard
This is a tough loss, but the team did not play bad at all. First of all, it is really hard to get over losing your starting quarterback and your starting center in the first quarter, and the Colts still had a shot at winning the game. Had it not been for 3 dumb, isolated mistakes, the Colts probably would have won it. Dud of the Game goes to Darius Leonard because he made the dumbest mistake, tackling head-first on a play that was already over, essentially gifting the Steelers 3 points that ended up being crucial. Also, because he seemed a step slow all game long, as was evident on McDonald’s touchdown, where Leonard just took a horrible angle and completely missed the tackle.
Honorable Mentions: Mark Glowinski, Chester Rogers
Play of the Game: Justin Houston’s strip sack for a safety
Justin Houston continues to make plays when it matters the most, this time, he beat elite left tackle Alejandro Villanueva and got to Rudolph in the end zone to force the ball out, resulting in a safety that got the Colts the ball back and within two points.
Worst Plays of the Game: Leonard’s dumb flag, Rogers fumble
Quarterbacks will throw ill-timed interceptions, and kickers will not make 100% of their kicks, it just happens. What can't happen on a team with playoff aspirations are the two foolish individual mistakes Leonard and Rogers made today.
With halftime only a few seconds away, the Steelers tried a quick throw to the sidelines to get a few yards. The play was obvious and three Colts players got to McDonald before he could reach the sideline, the clock had already hit 0 and the play was more than under control, that is until Darius Leonard came in head-first, and hit McDonald helmet-to-helmet. The flag was questionable, to say the least, but Leonard’s decision to do what he did was unarguably dumb. The resulting flag put the Steelers in field goal position, and Boswell capitalized, adding 3 free points in a game the Colts lost by 2.
The second big mistake came right after Justin Houston’s forced safety. On the ensuing punt, Rogers fielded the ball after a bounce, tried to return it, and lost the ball before hitting the ground. The turnover not only killed the Colts momentum after the safety, but also put the Steelers right into scoring position.
Best Position Group: Vacant
This is not because all position groups had a bad game, but just because there was no particular one that stood out. The defensive line once again had a solid overall game, especially against the run, but they failed bringing down Rudolph (just one sack). I thought the secondary also had a nice game, including rookies Marvell Tell and Khari Willis.
Unsung Hero: Grover Stewart
Stewart has slowly but surely been eating into Margus Hunt’s snaps. Stewart is the heaviest defensive linemen on the Colts roster, and he is instrumental in the Colts run defense. He had a nice game yesterday, and was a big reason why the Steelers running attack averaged just 3.6 YPC
Rookie of the Week: Parris Campbell
Even though he fumbled the ball twice (lost none), Campbell was the Colts most electric player on offense against Pittsburgh, and showed a bit of his game-breaking speed. If he can continue to develop and become more accustomed to the NFL he could become a key piece in the offense.