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Print

Steelers edge Colts, 23-20

Posted Sep 25, 2011

STEELERS 23, COLTS 20

Steelers’ record: 2-1
One year ago: 3-0
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead, 20-6

STORYLINE
Allow Coach Mike Tomlin to provide the perspective. “Any time you play an AFC team, particularly on the road, it’s a significant game. We all understand how these divisional races are slotted and handled, and how playoff positions are determined and so forth, so you have to acknowledge that AFC road games are significant ones.”

TURNING POINT
With all of the issues facing the Colts secondary, it figured that their primary method of dealing with the Steelers passing attack would be the sack/strip by DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. The Colts got exactly that on consecutive possessions, and the Steelers’ two-score lead evaporated into a tie game.

STAT THAT STANDS OUT
Rashard Mendenhall’s longest run against the Colts was 15 yards. He gained 22 yards on his other 17 carries.

WHAT WENT RIGHT
* Mike Wallace caught two passes for 48 yards on the game’s opening possession, including a 29-yard catch-and-run in which he took a quick throw from Ben Roethlisberger and broke a tackle by safety David Caldwell to get down the sideline.

* It was the Colts’ first possession, a third-and-7, when the Steelers rushed only three players but Ziggy Hood still got a hit on QB Kerry Collins to force an incomplete pass and the subsequent punt.

* It was a third-and-1 for the Colts near midfield on their second possession. Kerry Collins lined up in an empty set and tried to get a quick pass off to TE Dallas Clark. Troy Polamalu read the route, came off his man and broke up the pass. The Colts punted.

* It only took three catches for Mike Wallace to extend his franchise record streak of 100-yard receiving games in the regular season to six in a row. The pass that put him over the top was an 81-yard touchdown from Ben Roethlisberger that gave the Steelers a 10-0 lead with 3:29 left in the first quarter.

* The 81-yard pass to Wallace was the third-longest in Roethlisberger’s career and the longest since he hooked up with Santonio Holmes on an 83-yard play on Dec. 20, 2007 in St. Louis against the Rams.

* It was a third-and-4 with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter, and Curtis Painter had replaced Kerry Collins at quarterback. Pierre Garcon ran past Ike Taylor and was wide open down the right sideline, but Painter overthrew him.

* In the fourth quarter, Antonio Brown returned two Pat McAfee punts for a total of 62 yards, the first for 37 and the second for 25.

* It took almost three full games for the Steelers to come up with their first takeaway, but it was a significant one at a critical time. James Harrison’s sack/strip of Curtis Painter was returned 16 yards for a touchdown by Troy Polamalu for a 20-13 lead.

WHAT WENT WRONG
* It wasn’t technically a red zone failure for the offense, but it was a failure nonetheless. On a third-and-8 from the Colts 30-yard line on the game’s opening possession, Ben Roethlisberger threw a perfect strike to Emmanuel Sanders over the middle at the 10-yard line. He dropped the ball, but Shaun Suisham did salvage things by hitting a 48-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.

* On a second-and-10 from near midfield early in the second quarter, Colts DE Robert Mathis ran around RT Marcus Gilbert and tracked down Ben Roethlisberger for a strip/sack, with Mathis also recovering the fumble. With the Colts having so many issues in their defensive backfield, strip/sacks by Mathis and DE Dwight Freeney figured to be Indianapolis’ primary method of forcing turnovers. The Colts ultimately turned the takeaway into three points on a 21-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri.

* Apparently, the lesson wasn’t learned after the first sack/strip, because on the Steelers’ next possession, Dwight Freeney beat Jonathan Scott to perform the sack/strip, and DE Jamaal Anderson scooped up the loose ball and ran 47 yards for the touchdown that tied the game, 10-10, with two minutes left in the first half.

* The Steelers offense wasn’t finished helping the Colts, even after Anderson’s touchdown. On the first play after the kickoff, Roethlisberger overthrew Emmanuel Sanders down the middle, and the ball was intercepted by CB Joe Lefeged near midfield. Instead of touching Lefeged down, Sanders simply jumped over the prone Colts player, who then got up and returned the ball 25 yards. Then, a penalty for a low block on Antonio Brown added another 15 yards to the play, and the Colts ended up with another short field goal from Vinatieri to take a 13-10 lead at halftime.

* On a third-and-6 from the Colts’ 20-yard line with the Steelers trailing, 13-10, Roethlisberger threw a quick pass to rookie TE Weslye Saunders that would have been good for the first down if he caught it cleanly. But he bobbled the ball and when he got it under control it was only a 2-yard gain. Then Shaun Suisham hit the upright from 36 yards out, and a chance to tie the game was botched.

* On the possession following the defensive touchdown that gave the Steelers a 20-13 lead, the Colts offense marched 80 yards in 10 plays in three minutes and 10 seconds of game time for the touchdown that tied the game, 20-20, with 2:09 left in the fourth quarter.

INJURY UPDATE
The Steelers had only one player inactive for the game because of an injury. Brett Keisel sustained a grade-1 sprain of the PCL in his left knee in the win over the Seahawks. He did not practice at all during the week before the Colts game, and he was ruled out on that Friday.

Both Chris Kemoeatu (knee) and Bryant McFadden (hamstring) were inactive for the Sept. 18 game against Seattle. Neither player was listed on the injury report for the week of the Colts game, and both of them practiced all week.

Kemoeatu was back at his starting left guard spot, but McFadden was inactive for the second straight week. William Gay again started in McFadden’s spot, and then he moved inside in sub-packages with Keenan Lewis coming on to play the outside cornerback spot.

During the game, the Steelers lost three offensive linemen. Marcus Gilbert was the first to be stricken, and he left with a shoulder injury. He was replaced by Trai Essex.

Then Doug Legursky separated a shoulder, and he was replaced by Ramon Foster. Late in the fourth quarter, Jonathan Scott sprained an ankle, and with the Steelers out of offensive linemen, Gilbert returned and played left tackle with one arm.