Steelers – Colts: Post-Game Buzz
The Pittsburgh Steelers were 11-point favorites going into Indianapolis and escaped with a 23-20 victory on Sunday.
The Steelers barely beat Curtis Painter and the Colts and this win will likely be alarming to a lot of observers and pundits, but winning on the road is never easy and despite the substantial advantage Pittsburgh had at quarterback, this game should have been viewed as a much tougher matchup because of the glaring mismatch of the Colts edge rushers vs the Steelers offensive line.
That proved accurate Sunday night and was the main reason this game was so closely played. The Colts were disruptive with big plays on D and getting constant pressure on Roethlisberger. It was the one area the Steelers focused their game plan on but personnel wise, the Steelers were just no match.
In the end though, the Steelers got the victory as the offense moved the ball 60 yards to setup the game winning field goal.
Like I said last week, in the NFL, a win is a win and it was a big one for the Steelers who would have had 2 conference losses going into a tough week 4 matchup in Houston.
“We don’t care how it looks, ” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said afterwards. We just want to get out of stadiums with wins, particularly road stadiums and AFC ones.”
The Big Turnover
Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau stressed on Thursday that the takeaways were going to come for the Steelers defense and he was confident that it was going to happen against Indianapolis. It finally did after 11 quarters when Troy Polamalu returned a Curtis Painter fumble on a James Harrison sack, 16 yards for a touchdown with 5:13 remaining in the 4th quarter.
Wallace emerging as one of the NFL’s Best
Chris Collinsworth on the NBC telecast said there are only a few receivers in the NFL he would have over Mike Wallace (5 REC – 144 YARDS – 1TD) and pretty soon those type of comments are going to be coming from a lot of analysts
Wallace in his third year, continues to evolve as an elite receiver and he took another step in that direction tonight. Wallace had a monster game with 5 receptions for 144 yards and an 81-yard touchdown reception. Wallace opened the game with a 19-yard reception on the first play from scrimmage and Roethlisberger hit Wallace for a 30-yard catch and run on the team’s third play from scrimmage as the Steelers opened up with four straight passing plays.
Roethlisberger and Wallace then hooked up for an 81-yard touchdown strike at 4:22 of the first quarter.
The touchdown pass gave Wallace six straight 100-yard receiving games in the regular season, the longest streak in the NFL since 1995. Wallace has nine 100-yard receiving games in his last twelve regular season games. A tremendous feat.
Through three games this season, Wallace has 21 receptions, 377 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Worst O-Line In NFL?
What we learned tonight is that the Steelers do have the worst offensive line in football. Dwight Freeney vs Jonathan Scott was comical to watch and it was a matchup of a probowl player vs a true backup.
The Steelers always find a way with Ben Roethlisberger to get it down with whatever line he has in front of him, but you have to wonder if that’s going to come to an end this season.
One reason for concern is that this is the worst group of tackles Roethlisberger has had around him in his career.
In 2008 when they won the Super Bowl, the Steelers had Max Starks and Willie Colon at the tackles and last year they at least had Flozell Adams out there and Max Starks early in the season.
Now injuries have popped to Scott and Gilbert, although the injury to Gilbert is minor. This time around the Steelers might be forced to place a call into Max Starks, regardless of what offensive line coach Sean Kugler thinks of him. Sources say Starks would sign for the vet minimum and has dropped significant weight since July. However, anyone close to the situation says Starks has been ruled out as a possibility to bring back under any circumstances but we’ll see about that.
Harrison is Back!
From the start of the game, James Harrison (7 tackles, 1 sack) was explosive getting a strong push off the line of scrimmage, something we haven’t seen since last season. That really caught my eye in the first half and Harrison delivered in the 4th quarter with the big play of the game. His aggressiveness and the power he had is a big development for the Steelers moving forward as he seems to be getting back into football shape.
Mendenhall running upright and with no power
The running game stalled for the third straight game and the Steelers couldn’t exploit the leagues 29th ranked defense. Due to how bad this offensive line is, the running game may never get going but Rashard Mendenahall (18 CAR – 37 Yards, 15 LG) just hasn’t been right, most notably his fundamentals.
He’s running upright way too much and continues to be susceptible to a hard hit. Mendenhall also held onto the ball poorly tonight as there were a few occasions when the ball almost popped out. There’s a reason Mewelde Moore got the nod at the end of the game over Mendenhall and it wasn’t just because the Steelers were in their 2-minute offense, like Tomlin said.
Still Vulnerable against the Run
Since the start of even the preseason, a concern emerging is that the Steelers have looked vulnerable against the run. Joseph Addai averaged 5.1 yards per carry, rushing for 86 yards and the Colts dominated the line of scrimmage at times, most notably in the 4th quarter where Addai rushed for over 40 yards.
The D-line has been the area of concern as Aaron Smith has looked finished in two of three games this season.
Brown showing versatility as a receiver
While Emmanuel Sanders is emerging as a big play threat in the slot and in the middle of the field, Antonio Brown is emerging as a more all around weapon, showing the ability to make big plays on the outside and in the middle of the field. He has been very effective on the outside.
Brown had 4 receptions for 75 yards, averaging 18.8 yards per catch. He was targeted eight times by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.