When the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts took the field on Sunday Night Football in Week 13, there were significant playoff implications on the line. Both teams entered the game with a 6-5 record, but only one would propel their record to 7-5 and improve their odds of making the postseason.
Pittsburgh won the coin toss and elected to put their high-flying offense on the field first, but Jacoby Jones, who took a deep kickoff out of the endzone, fumbled the kickoff and the Colts recovered. Matt Hasselbeck took over at the Pittsburgh 11-yard line, but two plays later Jarvis Jones intercepted Hasselbeck to give the Steelers possession without surrendering a point.
Despite Pittsburgh's good fortune, the Steelers gave the football back on DeAngelo Williams' fourth carry of the game when the running back fumbled and the Colts recovered at the Pittsburgh 25-yard line. The Colts weren't able to convert a first down, and settled for an Adam Vinatieri 35-yard field with 10:19 left in he first quarter.
After three turnovers in the first 5 minutes, the Steelers got the football back down 3-0, but it didn't take long for Pittsburgh to move the football into Indianapolis territory. The Steelers drive went to the 11-yard line before stalling and resulted in a 29-yard Chris Boswell field goal to tie the score 3-3 with 5:27 left in the first quarter.
The Colts took the ball from their 20-yard line, and after a first down on their first series, a Hasselbeck pass was tipped by William Gay and intercepted by Brandon Boykin and gave the Steelers the football at the Indianapolis 37-yard line. Although the Steelers weren't able to gain a first down, they were able to get 3 points off the turnover with a 51-yard Boswell field goal. The kick gave Pittsburgh a 6-3 lead with 3:15 left in the first quarter.
After four turnovers in the first quarter, two by each team, the Colts moved the ball to the Pittsburgh 43-yard line before a Pat McAfee punted the ball back to the Steelers, but Pittsburgh failed to do anything with the ball and Jordan Berry punted for the first time of the game with 11:02 left in the second quarter.
With the Colts starting their next drive inside Pittsburgh territory, Hasselbeck settled in with a big throw to Andre Johnson and eventually a Frank Gore touchdown reception. The Vinatieri point after touchdown made the score 10-6 with 8:26 left in the second quarter.
The Steelers turned to the no-huddle offense on their next drive, and were able to move the ball into the red-zone with a big pass to Martavis Bryant along the sideline. Two plays later, Ben Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for the first Pittsburgh touchdown of the game. Pittsburgh went for the two-point conversion, and the gamble paid off to give the Steelers a 14-10 lead with 4:04 left in the second quarter.
Pittsburgh forced a 3-and-out on the Colt's next drive, giving them the ball back with 2:00 left in the half. Roethlisberger and company took little time moving the ball into Indianapolis territory, and after a Markus Wheaton catch took the Steelers to the 5-yard line the team faced a 1st and goal with 24 seconds left in the half. On third and goal, it was a Roethlisberger to Wheaton pass for a touchdown with 10 seconds left in the half. The Boswell point after gave Pittsburgh a 21-10 lead heading into the break.
The Colts went 3-and-out to start the second half, and the Steelers took little time to add points to the scoreboard. On the Steelers' third play in the third quarter, Roethlisberger hit Martavis Bryant for a 68-yard touchdown reception. The Boswell extra point gave Pittsburgh a 28-10 lead with 12:35 left in the second quarter.
Indianapolis couldn't answer the Pittsburgh Steelers barrage, and were forced to punt the ball back to the red-hot Steelers with 10:55 left in the third quarter. Pittsburgh turned to DeAngelo Williams and the running game for their second drive of the quarter, but the end result of the drive was a missed 47-yard field goal from Chris Boswell with 6:08 left in the third quarter.
Indianapolis drove the length of the field, but on 4th and 1 failed to convert and gave the ball back to Pittsburgh with 3:34 left in the third quarter. DeAngelo Williams continued to be the work horse, but a 50-yard bomb to Antonio Brown put the Steelers in the red-zone to start the 4th quarter. It only took two red-zone plays for Roethlisberger to connect with Brown for his second touchdown of the game. The Boswell extra point gave the Steelers a 35-10 lead with 14:11 left in the final frame.
With their backs against the wall, Indianapolis got a 59-yard kickoff return, giving them phenomenal field position, but on their second series in the drive, Hasselbeck was sacked by James Harrison which caused a fumble and was recovered by Vince Williams. The Steelers turned the turnover into a Chris Boswell 42-yard field goal to give the Steelers a 38-10 lead with 6:29 left in the game.
Charlie Whithurst came into the game for Matt Hasselbeck and after going three-and-out, the McAfee punt was returned 73-yards by Antonio Brown for a touchdown. After the extra point, the Steelers led 45-10 with 4:00 left in the game.
The final four minutes were merely a formality as the Steelers rolled to a 45-10 win. The Steelers victory moved their record to 7-5 as they prepare for a big AFC North matchup in Week 14 when Pittsburgh will travel to Cincinnati to play the Bengals. The loss send the Colts back to .500 with a 6-6 record, and in a two team race for the AFC South with the Houston Texans.