The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in a pretty meaningless Week 17 game vs. the Cleveland Browns this Sunday, and that is because the team was able to complete an improbable 17-point comeback vs. the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16.
After scoring just 7 points in the first half, which most likely wouldn’t have happened without T.J. Watt’s strip sack and Mike Hilton’s return to the 3-yard line, the Steelers’ rebounded in the second half holding the Colts to just 3 points, and scoring 21 on the Colts’ defense.
So, what happened? How did the Steelers seemingly flip the switch and pull of such a dramatic turnaround? See what the players themselves had to say after the game, as it pertains to the second half adjustments and what went right in the second half of Week 16.
“Well, you said it exactly. We had a slow start, but we came back out in the second half and made the plays we needed to make, and I think in the second half we played great team football.”
“Just understand that we are a lot better football team than what we showed in the first half and just bowing up and putting out a better product in the second half.”
Cam Heyward on that stop in the 3rd when the Colts received the football to start the half.
“I think the stop was a big point. Really getting off the field fast. Our offense went and got seven points. I just think we gave up the three points to start this second half, but after that, we settled in, and we needed everything. I think everybody played cohesive. You look for each group to complement each other. We gave up three. Then we get stopped on a fourth and 1 and we don’t convert. The defense gets off the field. Offense gets a quick touchdown. You could just feel like, “Okay, let’s just ride this wave a little bit,” and we just kept battling back. I’m proud of the guys for doing that.”
“I think in the first half, there was no energy there. Everyone was pretty much just going with the flow. Came back at halftime. Ben [Roethlisberger] talked. [Maurkice] Pouncey said a few words and pretty much sparked us. The defense started off and Ben’s just doing no-huddle just calling plays and we got the job done. So, it’s more about having the energy and going back to having fun.”
“It all really plays down to just going out there and making plays at the end of the day. When you’re down and you’re doing all that talking and saying what you’re going to do and then you go out there and you don’t do it, it shows that you’re not really locked it, you’re not really about what you say you’re going to be about. So, it all really came out of that. Stop talking and just go out there and play, and we showed in the second half what we’re capable of and we can put points on the board”
“You know what, just believing in each other, believing that we can make plays. Guys made plays. That’s what we needed in the second half, was guys to step up, make the tough catches, block. We just have little things here and there, little MEs (mental errors), little mistakes. In the second half it just felt like we were able to kind of get into a rhythm, convert first downs and put drives together. I think that’s one of the biggest things that is helpful to both us and our defense.”
“A lot of the second half was that, just changing the tempo, trying to get guys balls, looks, things like that. I think it was successful because guys made plays. Like I said, we were able to convert, kind of keep the tempo going.”
“Guys were making plays. As a quarterback, you have to be accurate, you have to give guys the opportunity to make plays. In the second half the line gave me time. Sometimes when you’re going with the up-tempo or the no-huddle, you can kind of slow down a pass-rush. Guys are getting a little tired. You can make defenses call - sometimes - less exotic things. That’s kind of what we tried to do in the second half.”
“Well, I think there were a lot of things talked about at halftime. When you’re having fun playing the game, things can happen differently. So you’re right, it didn’t look good at the end of the half. That’s why you get a halftime to make adjustments, to gather yourself. I just can’t say enough about our defense in the second half, kind of shutting them down, getting us the ball, guys making plays on offense. It was a lot of fun.”