The Pittsburgh Steelers entered Week 9 with some serious momentum. After back-to-back wins the team had resurrected their season to a 3-4 record, but despite the momentum the team needed to prove they could beat a quality team. This is where the Indianapolis Colts entered the equation. The 5-2 Colts came into Heinz Field leading the AFC South, and proving they are a very good team even without Andrew Luck.
The Steelers needed a big win to prove to themselves, and their vast fan base, they are not a middle of the road team, but a team to be reckoned with in the AFC. The Steelers’ offense would get their chance to set the table for the team by getting the ball to start the game. After moving the ball with ease into Indianapolis territory, a third down pass went through JuJu Smith-Schuster’s hands and was intercepted by Kenny Moore.
After the 30 yard return by Moore it set up the Colts’ offense with tremendous field position. The Steelers’ offense was put in a bad spot to start the game for the second straight week, but this week they were able to hold the opposition to a field goal attempt. Adam Viniateri’s kick gave the Colts and early 3-0 lead.
On the first play of their next drive, Try Edmunds was sprung for a 45-yard gain, putting them in Colts’ territory in the blink of an eye. Two big third down conversions put the Steelers on the goal line for a second and goal situation, but after two plays the offense had to settle for a Chris Boswell field goal to tie the game at 3-3.
Indianapolis’ offense continued to move the ball on the Steelers, and took very little time getting into Pittsburgh territory. Facing a first and goal situation, Jacoby Brissett left the game with an ankle/knee injury. Brian Hoyer entered the game, and on third down hit Jack Doyle for the first touchdown of the game. After the Viniateri extra point, the Colts took a 10-3 lead with 11:57 left in the half.
The Steelers had shown the ability to move the ball on the Indianapolis defense, but again failed when it mattered most. On 4th-and-2, a play to Smith-Schuster was stopped shorts, turning the ball over on downs. Brian Hoyer remained at quarterback and Marlon Mack moved the Colts into field goal territory, but wanting more. However, when Hoyer targeted Doyle again, Minkah Fitzpatrick jumped the route and took it 96 yards back for a pick-six.
The Boswell point-after tied the game 10-10.
Hoyer and company weren’t deterred by the big play, and took little time getting the ball into the endzone again for another touchdown. This throw went to Zach Pascal to cap off a 6-play 75 yard drive. However, Viniateri’s point-after was blocked making the score 16-10 with 42 seconds left in the half.
Before half, the Steelers moved the ball to midfield, and it looked like a pass to Vance McDonald underneath would end the half. However, a personal foul call moved the Steelers into field goal range. Boswell’s 51 yard kick was good, making the score 16-13 heading into halftime.
Indianapolis picked up right where they left off in the first half, and Marlon Mack and Brian Hoyer quickly moved the ball into Pittsburgh territory. But on 4th and 4 Bud Dupree strip sacked Hoyer, and it was recovered by the defense giving the offense their best starting field position of the day.
Rudolph orchestrated the offense’s first touchdown drive of the game with passes to Jaylen Samuels, JuJu Smith-Schuster and eventually capping it off with a touchdown pass to Vance McDonald to give the Steelers their first lead of the game.
Chris Boswell’s point after was good, giving the Steelers a 20-16 lead with 5:25 left in the third quarter.
After the Steelers forced their first punt of the game on the Colt’s next drive, the Indianapolis special teams pinned Pittsburgh at the one-yard line to start their next drive. After a Trey Edmunds run gave them some breathing room, a second straight run pushed them back deeper in their own end. On 3rd down Mason Rudolph was sacked in the endzone for the safety, making the score 20-18, and giving the ball back to the Colts.
On the free kick, Jordan Berry had a tremendous punt which was fumbled and recovered by the Steelers, giving them the football at the Indianapolis 17 yard line. They only ran three plays before Boswell had to make a chip shot to extend the lead 23-18 at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Pittsburgh defense forced their first three-and-out of the game, but on the Steelers’ ensuing offensive possession Jaylen Samuels fumbled the football on third down giving the ball right back to the Colts. It took just four plays before Hoyer hit Chester Rogers for the go-ahead score. Indianapolis chose to go for a two-point conversion, but Terrell Edmunds broke up the pass, keeping the score 24-23 with 8:43 left in regulation.
Randy Fichtner’s offense hasn’t been known for having those big “answer” drives this season, but right after the Rogers score was one of those drives. Rudolph hit James Washington for a 40 yard gain on first down, and a defensive pass interference call put the offense inside the 10 yard line with a fresh set of downs. It didn’t matter with the Steelers settling for another field goal to make the score 26-24 with 6:36 left in regulation.
Both team exchanged punts before the Colts got the football back with 2:28 left in regulation trailing by two points and only one timeout remaining. On 3rd down Hoyer threw deep, and although it looked like the pass wasn’t catchable, defensive pass interference was the call giving Indianapolis the first down and great field position.
With a 43-yard field and 1:11 left in the game, the Colts missed the field goal to give the Steelers a 26-24 win.
The win moves the Steelers’ record to 4-4, and their third straight win. They now prepare for the Los Angeles Rams in Week 10 at Heinz Field. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold this week.