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PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger had career-highs with 40 completions for 522 yards and six touchdowns to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 51-34 win against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday night at Heinz Field.
The Steelers (5-3) racked up more than 600 yards in total offense to defeat Andrew Luck and the NFL's No. 1 offense in the Colts (5-3).
The Colts made it look easy on their opening drive, moving 60 yards from their 20 to the Steelers 20 in less than three minutes. The big play was a 45-yard pass from Luck to T.Y. Hilton. However, the Steelers defense stiffened from there and forced Adam Vinatieri to kick a 31-yard field goal.
The Steelers scored 21 unanswered points to close the quarter. Roethlisberger guided a nine-play, 80-yard drive in 4:43 on the first possession. Roethlisberger hit rookie Martavis Bryant for 19 yards and Heath Miller for 12. After the Steelers reached the red zone, Roethlisberger covered the final 18 yards with a pass to Markus Wheaton for his first NFL touchdown.
After the defense forced a three-and-out (hope you were sitting down when reading that statement), Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell keyed an amazing 12-play, 76-yard scoring drive in 6:29. Bell had a 16-yard run and caught a pass for 12 more. Roethlisberger flipped the field with a 26-yard toss to Lance Moore, while Bell tacked on 11 more yards on a run to set up a first-and-goal at the 8. After a short Bell run, Roethlisberger connected with Bryant for a five-yard scoring pass to give the Steelers a 14-3 lead.
That score quickly changed during the Colts' next possession. On the second play from scrimmage, Luck telegraphed an out to Hilton, and William Gay jumped the route and picked it off. He read it perfectly, caught the ball in stride and ran 33 yards untouched into the end zone.
The Steelers appeared to force another Colts punt, but offsetting penalties -- including a holding call on Mike Mitchell -- replayed third down. Luck took advantage and hooked up with Donte Moncrief for 52 yards deep downfield. Another penalty by Cortez Allen kept the sticks moving. After a short run by Ahmad Bradshaw, Luck fired a 21-yard scoring pass to tight end Dwayne Allen. Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons was in coverage, but didn't have a chance.
That touchdown cut the Steelers' lead to 21-10, but Roethlisberger wasn't finished just yet. He found Antonio Brown for 14 yards to get things started. After Dri Archer dropped a pass, Roethlisberger launched a 52-yard bomb to Bryant to drastically change field position. The Steelers didn't get a first down on their next three plays and Shaun Suisham kicked a 30-yard field goal. But the Steelers got to take the points off the board when the Colts were called for an offside penalty to make it first down at the 8. Brown was open for the touchdown pass on the next play.
After another three-and-out by Indy, the Steelers needed just four plays to go 77 yards in 2:26. Roethlisberger hooked up with fullback Will Johnson for 18 yards and Bell for eight. Johnson then caught a four-yarder for a first down, but Brown got loose downfield on the next play and Roethlisberger found him for a 47-yard touchdown, the quarterback's fourth on the day.
Unfortunately for the Steelers, Luck still had 5:08 to take the Colts down the field, and Allen still had to play in the club's nickel defense. On the second play, James Harrison got his first sack this season and Troy Polamalu knocked the ball loose from Luck's hand. But the Colts recovered. On the next play, Luck hit Hakeem Nicks for 27 yards with Allen in close proximity but having no idea where the ball was in relation to that.
Bradshaw then had an 11-yard run but, after a delay call on Luck, the Steelers appeared to hold the Colts to a field goal. Luck scrambled for 14 yards, but a holding call on Brice McCain kept the drive alive to the 28. Luck finished it with a 28-yard scoring toss to Hilton, as Allen trailed by several yards.
Leading 35-17 with 1:56 remaining in the first half, Roethlisberger was in full gunslinger mode. He hit Miller for 10 yards and Brown for 18. A third-down pass to Moore appeared to be interfered with, but there was no call and no catch. The Steelers appeared to be going for it on fourth down instead of attempting a 51-yard field goal, but Roethlisberger attempted a pooch-punt instead. His weak try was blocked and Luck had 35 seconds to get into the end zone again.
Luck nearly did it. He connected with Hilton for 39 yards and then ran for 13. After two incomplete passes, Luck was pressured by Cam Heyward. While attempting to knock down the pass, Heyward's hand hit Luck's helmet and he was called for a hit to the head on the quarterback to make it first-and-goal at the 5-yard line. Fortunately for the Steelers, the Colts only had one second left and had to take a 23-yard field goal by Vinatieri. It cut the Steelers advantage to 35-20 at the half, but the Steelers got the ball to start the second half.
And Roethlisberger took advantage. He drove the Steelers 80 yards in 10 plays covering 5:01 and tied a career-high with his fifth touchdown pass. Roethlisberger hit Brown for nine yards, Wheaton for 12 and then Miller for 49 on a third-and-eight down to the 4-yard line. After a two-yard run by Bell, Roethlisberger tossed a fade to Bryant for a two-yard score to make it 42-20.
That lead didn't last too long, as the Colts went the distance two series later. Luck found Moncrief for 11 yards and Hilton for 15 and 16 on consecutive plays. On third-and-four, Polamalu appeared to stop Moncrief short of the first down, but he failed to wrap him. Lawrence Timmons had to finish the play, and by then Moncrief had the first down. Another hands-to-the face penalty by McCain made it first down at the 12, and Bradshaw completed the remaining yardage for a touchdown.
Roethlisberger connected with Darrius Heyward-Bey for 16 yards on the ensuing drive, but the receiver fell to the ground and then got up and fumbled without being touched while on the ground. The Colts recovered on the Steelers' 36-yard line. Three plays later, Luck fired into the end zone to Moncrief, who beat Allen and Polamalu for the 31-yard scoring play to make it 42-31 with 2:35 remaining in the third quarter.
The Steelers fumbled on their next possession as well, only it came after they drove 75 yards from their 20 to the 5. Roethlisberger hit Bell for 17 and Miller for 15. An 18-yarder to Brown and a 13-yard toss to Wheaton gave them a first down at the 11-yard line. LeGarrette Blount ran for six yards to the 5, but was stripped of the ball.
The Steelers defense came back out ready to play this time and held Luck in check on first down. Pressure came on second down and Luck tripped and fell. While on his back, he lofted a pass toward the sideline. He was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, which is a safety.
The Steelers got the ball on the free kick, and Roethlisberger was at it again. He took the club 67 yards in 12 plays and 7:20. Roethlisberger hit Brown for 18 yards and Miller for 10 to reach the red zone. On fourth-and-one from the 11, Roethlisberger fired his sixth touchdown pass of the night. Miller was wide open in the end zone for the score that gave the Steelers a 51-34 advantage.
The much-maligned Steelers defense, which was called for numerous holding and hands-to-face penalties, got a bit of redemption when Antwon Blake picked off Luck in the end zone with 2:48 remaining to seal the victory.