The Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts squared off in what many thought was a less-than-fortunate Monday Night Football matchup between two middle-of-the-road teams. The Steelers entered the game with a 3-7 record, and the Colts with a 4-6-1 record. Less than ideal for the NFL, but if there was any chance of either team resurrecting their season, this was a must-win game.
The Steelers have won seven in a row against the Colts, and it was Kenny Pickett’s turn to try and keep the streak going against Matt Ryan and company in Indianapolis in prime time. After the Colts won the opening coin toss and deferred their possession to the second half, the Steelers’ offense was called to duty first.
Pickett’s first drive of the game had a promising start, where the Steelers didn’t face a third down until they were nearing Matthew Wright’s field goal range. On that 3rd and 2, a pass to Steven Sims fell incomplete, and Wright was called on for a 45-yard field goal. The kick was good, giving the Steelers an early 3-0 lead.
Indianapolis’ first possession was brief, considering the second play, and Matt Ryan’s second pass, was intercepted by James Pierre. This gave the Steelers’ offense the ball at the 38-yard line, but the drive resulted in zero points considering the Steelers moved the wrong way after Pickett was sacked twice, the latter moving them out of field goal range.
After a Pressley Harvin touchback, the Steelers’ defense got a three-and-out thanks to a Terrell Edmunds sack, giving the ball right back to the Colts. Pickett and the Steelers offense took over, and continued to drive down the field at the end of the first quarter. The drive went into the second quarter, but ended in another Wright field goal, this from 52-yards, to give the Steelers a 6-0 lead with 14:08 left in the first half.
Another Colts drive ended in a three-and-out, the Steelers’ offense continued to do damage against a very stout Colts defense. The first play from the drive was the team’s first deep shot, and it was completed to George Pickens.
The pass to Pickens set up the offense in Indianapolis territory, and when runs by Pickett, Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland moved the ball inside the 10-yard line, it was Najee Harris who plunged into the end-zone for the first touchdown of the game.
Wright’s extra point was good, giving the Steelers a 13-0 lead with 7:46 left in the half.
Desperately needing anything positive, Matt Ryan, and more Jonathan Taylor, were able to move the Colts’ offense into field goal range. The drive stalled, but resulted in a 51-yard field goal to make the score 13-3 with 3:48 left in the second quarter.
The Steelers offense remained hot, and were in Indianapolis territory at the 2-minute warning. The unit moved the ball into a first-and-goal situation, but were unable to punch it into the end-zone, instead settling for another Wright field goal to make the score 16-3 with 56 seconds left in the half.
That 16-3 score would hold heading into halftime, and the Colts received the football to start the second half. Luckily for Indianapolis, they started the half with a bang as Dallis Flowers returned the opening kickoff 8-yards deep, and returned it 89-yards. Three plays later it was Jonathan Taylor plunging into the end-zone for the touchdown. After the extra point, the Steelers’ lead was cut to 16-10 with 13:04 remaining in the third quarter.
A Pittsburgh 3-and-out gave the ball right back to Indianapolis’ offense, and the Indianapolis Colts used their hurry up offense to not allow Pittsburgh to substitute, and to tire out the Steelers pass rush. The plan worked as the Colts moved the ball into field goal range. However, every time it looked the Steelers’ defense did the job, a penalty continued the Indianapolis drive.
Cam Sutton was flagged for a false start on a 32-yard field goal attempt, giving the Colts a new set of downs. Minkah Fitzpatrick was flagged for defensive pass interference, giving the Colts the first down and the ball at the one-yard line. On the next play a botched handoff to Jonathan Taylor was fumbled and recovered by the Steelers.
The Steelers were unable to even get a first down off the fumble recovery before the Colts’ offense was back on the field. It didn’t take long for the Colts to get right back into the red-zone, and this time they finished off the drive with a Ryan pass to Michael Pittman for the touchdown. The extra point was good, giving the Colts their first lead of the night 17-16 with 16 seconds left in the quarter.
While it took several key third down conversions, Kenny Pickett led the Steelers down the field and into the red-zone. As always, when the field shortened, things got incredibly difficult for the Pittsburgh offense. Facing a 2nd-and-goal, Diontae Johnson dropped a would-be touchdown pass. The third down attempt was a Benny Snell run into the end-zone for the lead.
The Steelers went for the two-point conversion, and it was successful as Pickett hit George Pickens to make the score 24-17 with 9:55 left in regulation.
Following an Indianapolis three-and-out, all the Steelers could do was kill some clock. By the time the Steelers punted the ball back to Indianapolis, the drive would start at their own 7-yard line with 3:52 left in the quarter.
Matt Ryan, and the suddenly hot Colts offense, moved the ball quickly into Pittsburgh territory. Facing a key 4th and 6 coming out of the two-minute warning, the play was completed to Michael Pittman continuing the drive. An Alex Highsmith strip sack pushed the Colts back, but the drive was aided by a Matt Ryan scramble to set up a 3rd and 3. A failed running play set up a 4th and 3, and the pass fell incomplete.
It resulted in Pickett coming onto the field for the victory formation, and to give the Steelers the win. The win moves Pittsburgh’s record to 4-7 on the season as they now prepare for the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they press on throughout the regular season.