STEELERS 28, COLTS 7
Steelers' record: 6-5
One year ago: 6-5
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead, 23-6
Inside the series: Steelers were 9-3 vs. the Baltimore Colts; they are 14-3 vs. the Indianapolis Colts.
It wasn't immediately know after last weekend's games, but on Monday Colts Coach Chuck Pagano announced that starting quarterback Andrew Luck had been placed in the concussion protocol, and the tenor of this game changed dramatically. It changed dramatically, because it's almost impossible for a player to enter the concussion protocol on a Monday and be cleared in time to play a game on a Thursday.
Pagano then explained the protocol process. "You have to feel better, you have to take an impact test and pass an impact test, then practice non-contact, then have another day and then take another impact test and be cleared by an independent [neurologist]."
And that's how Scott Tolzien became the Colts starter for this Thanksgiving night game.
During his Monday news conference, still hours before Pagano's announcement about Luck, Coach Mike Tomlin had said, "If you are talking about the Colts, you start with Andrew Luck." When it became clear Luck wouldn't make it, Tomlin's assessment of the Colts' potential strategy had changed.
Game action from Week 12 against the Indianapolis Colts.
"I think you're talking about the central focus of their offense shifting to Frank Gore, and so we're working to minimize his impact on the game. Not just in the running game, that's obvious, but just him as a security blanket as an outlet in the passing game," said Tomlin. "We have to minimize Frank Gore. We can't allow them to be in third-and-mediums, third-and-manageables. They'll have an increased commitment in trying to control the flow of the game through him and the running game, and we have to counteract that with quality play."
HOW THE STORYLINE PLAYED OUT
If the Colts indeed came into the game with the idea of running their offense through Frank Gore, that would explain why they finished the game with only 7 points. Gore was limited to 28 yards rushing on 15 carries (1.9 average), and his longest run was 7 yards. Gore also caught only one pass for 3 yards.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT**
The Steelers red zone defense was outstanding, even if it didn't really look that way in the final statistics. The Colts were 1-for-3 in the red zone, but on their two failures they didn't even come out of it with a field goal. Their two red zone failures resulted in no points, when the Steelers defense posted two goal-line stands.
It was the goal-line stand at the end of the first half. After Mike Mitchell dislodged the ball from Chester Rogers on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line, the Steelers were able to preserve their 21-7 lead into the intermission, and they were in line to receive the second half kickoff.