The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Monday when they played the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12 of regular season action. The Steelers were winners in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had a good or bad performance.
Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left a lot to be desired can be called ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.
Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after the latest game...
Stat Line: 2 (1 INT, 1 FR)
The Steelers continue to take the ball away, and while they don’t always lead to points (more on that in a bit), they change the game. Whether it was James Pierre’s interception on Matt Ryan’s second pass of the game, or Chris Wormley ripping the ball away from Ryan after Jonathan Taylor’s costly fumble. The fumble certainly changed the dynamic of the second half, and took at least 3 points off the scoreboard.
Benny Snell/Anthony McFarland
Stat Line: Combined 18 carries, 92 yards, 1 TD
Is there anything better than fill-ins stepping in and stepping up? When Najee Harris left the game with an abdominal injury, and the team was already without Jaylen Warren, the team turned to a practice squad call up, McFarland, and a special teams specialist, Snell, to get the job done. And they got the job done, to the tune of 92 total yards and a touchdown. A great performance by the Steelers’ depth at running back.
Stat Line: 36 carries, 172 yards, 4.8 average, 2 TDs, 16-yard long
Speaking of the running game, it’s worth talking about how the Steelers ran the ball as a team. 4.8 yards per rush, 172 total yards and 2 touchdowns is more than enough, and the Steelers are starting to find an identity on the offensive side of the ball. Balance, and a hard-nosed running game.
Offense in 1st/2nd/4th Quarters
Stat Line: All points scored in those quarters
The Steelers offense did well in the aforementioned quarters. The one left will remain for another area of this article, but the Steelers did plenty to win the game on Monday night. Sure, the 4th quarter wasn’t the prettiest drive ever, but they got the job done. More on that a little later.
Stat Line: 6 tackles, 4 solo, 1 sack, 2 QB Hits, 1 FF
The Steelers’ defense didn’t have many standout players in Week 12, but one who stood tall when they needed it the most was Highsmith. In the Colts’ final drive he had a strip sack of Matt Ryan and a tough 3rd down run stop to set up a 4th down which wasn’t converted. Highsmith is blossoming into a very good, borderline, great outside linebacker. Enjoy it while you can.
Stat Line: 20/28, 174 yards, 6.2 average, 0 TD, 0 INT, 3 sacks 23 yards, 87.5 rating
I’m sure I’ll catch flack for putting Pickett on the Winners list, but he was efficient, smart with the football and didn’t get a lot of help. No, not every pass was perfect, but at some point when will receivers help out the rookie quarterback? George Pickens had two uncharacteristic drops, potentially a third if you count the play he bobbled the ball near the sideline, and Diontae Johnson, who hasn’t scored a touchdown yet, also was unable to haul in a touchdown pass. A little help for the rookie quarterback will go a long way.
4th Quarter Offense
Stat Line: Got the job done
In the 4th quarter there were still plenty of punts, but when the offense got the football down 17-16, they gave the team the drive they had yet to produce this season. The defense surrendered the lead, and the offense essentially said, “Don’t worry, we got you.” The drive which was capped off by Snell’s touchdown run might have been one of the better drives of the year, and a beautiful sight to see.
3rd Down Offense
Stat Line: 7-for-14
I realize the going rate for successful 3rd down offense is 40%, but I like 50%. The Steelers got the job done in this area on Monday night.
Time of Possession
Stat Line: PIT - 34:22 / IND - 25:38
The Steelers dominated the game in time of possession, mainly in the first half, but it was huge when it came to helping keep the defense fresh and watching from the sideline in the first half.
Dan Moore Jr.
Stat Line: Penalties and Beaten
Maybe pointing out Moore individually is harsh, but his play hasn’t been the best the past few weeks. More penalties and sacks surrendered has been the going trend for Moore recently. Many consider Moore to be trying out to save his job in 2023 and beyond, and if that’s the case he better start righting the ship soon.
Kickoff Coverage Team
Stat Line: 89-yard return to start the 2nd half
How do you let a team right back into a game? How about letting the return man field the opening kickoff of the second half 8 yards deep and return it 89 yards?! Yep, that will do it. Mike Tomlin acknowledged the poor kickoff coverage in his post-game press conference, and I hope this is just a one week thing.
P.O.T. (Points Off Turnovers)
Stat Line: 0 points scored
As stated in the winners column, the Steelers had two takeaways in the game. Unfortunately, neither equated in points. The biggest problem was the Steelers offense unable to even put up a point after Pierre’s interception. Just not good enough.
3rd Quarter Offense
Stat Line: 0 points
Another 3rd quarter, and another poor offensive showing. Statistically, the third quarter is the Steelers weakest, and that rang true on Monday night in Indianapolis.
3rd Quarter Defense
Stat Line: 14 points surrendered
While the offense went ice cold, so did the defense. They surrendered 14 points in the 3rd quarter, and didn’t put up much of a fight vs. Matt Ryan and company. The key now is to avoid these lulls in seemingly every game.
If you want a more detailed look at the above list, check out my “Let’s Ride” podcast where I outline each Winner and Loser, and MORE!