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Breaking down the tape: Attack mode

A look back at the Steelers' 45-10 victory over the Colts via the magic of the DVR:


THE JAMES GANG:** It took LB James Harrison all of 12 offensive snaps in the fourth quarter to collect his three sacks.

Harrison also had a forced fumble, a pressure and three assisted tackles in that span.

"That's James," veteran S Will Allen observed. "He takes care of his body. His body is his temple. He invests a lot into it. And he's sharp above the neck.

"He exposed their line and he got some sacks."

Harrison exposed LT Joe Reitz, who had shifted over from RT for a second consecutive game due to Anthony Castonzo's unavailability, in particular.

On first-and-10 from the Steelers' 13-yard line with 12:59 left in the fourth quarter, Harrison got up the field on Reitz and then drove hard left and got to QB Matt Hasselbeck from behind and forced a fumble that was recovered by LB Vince Williams.

On first-and-10 from the Indianapolis 45 with 3:56 left in the fourth quarter, Harrison simply bull-rushed Reitz back into the pocket, then turned and tackled QB Charlie Whitehurst.

And on first-and-10 from the Steelers' 10 with 1:57 left in the fourth, Harrison got wide on Reitz and was able to chase down Whitehurst after Whitehurst had sensed pressure and started to scramble right.

"That's who he is," Allen said of Harrison, who had two sacks prior to the Colts game and none since the Steelers' victory over Arizona on Oct. 18.


Check out the highlight photos from the Steelers vs Colts game. The Steelers defeated the Colts 45-10 on December 6th 2015.

ATTACK MODE: ** The Steelers relentlessly attacked down the field against Indianapolis, even in third-and-short or third-and-manageable situations.

The first such instance occurred on third-and-5 from the Indianapolis 32 with 3:26 left in the first quarter. The Colts had CB Vontae Davis on WR Martavis Bryant wide-left and CB Greg Toler on WR Darrius Heyward-Bey wide-right, both in press coverage. QB Ben Roethlisberger accepted a shotgun snap, took a three-step drop and lofted the ball deep down the right sideline for Heyward-Bey as if the throw had been predetermined.

A touchdown might have resulted had Toler not gotten his left arm between Heyward-Bey's outstretched arms and body, which prevented Heyward-Bey from clutching the ball back to his chest. Toler also got a second deflection on the ball after it initially bounced from Heyward-Bey's grasp; nice play.

The Colts tried more press coverage on third-and-3 from the Steelers' 32 with 12:44 left in the third quarter (Davis on WR Markus Wheaton wide-left, CB Darius Butler on WR Antonio Brown slot-right and Toler on Bryant wide-right). Roethlisberger took a shotgun snap, rolled right five steps and left it fly for Bryant, once again seemingly as if that had been the intention all along. This time, the play went for a 68-yard touchdown.

On third-and-4 from the Indianapolis 30 with 6:18 left in the third quarter, the response to more press coverage against a three-receivers set was another deep ball (Roethlisberger's pass landed at the goal line with Bryant at the 2).

And on third-and-4 from the Indianapolis 24, Roethlisberger went to the end zone again. In this instance Toler was playing off coverage against Bryant, who managed to get inside position, went up for the ball at the goal line and got two hands on it but was unable to bring it down.

Roethlisberger's reaction was to grab his facemask with both hands in apparent exasperation, presumably over how close the two had come to hooking up for another touchdown.

"When it's third-and-5, most teams in the NFL will go for a 5- or 6-yard route, a 7-yard route," Roethlisberger said. "We're not afraid to take shots. Sometimes, obviously, we don't connect and we have to come off the field. But we're not going to be afraid to take the shots on third-and-short or third-and-medium.

"We're not just trying to get the first down. We're trying to make plays."


STRAIGHT-AHEAD SPEED:** Brown's 71-yard punt return for a touchdown was spectacular in its simplicity.

Brown caught Pat McAfee's punt at the Steelers' 29 just outside the right hash marks and began moved laterally to his left as S Shamarko Thomas and CB Antwon Blake ran on either side of S Winston Guy at the Steelers' 42.

Brown cut up the field just inside the left hash marks just after Thomas leveled Guy at the Steelers' 32.

Brown was next able to run between LS Matt Overton and RB Zurlon Tipton while getting a block from S Robert Golden on S Clayton Geathers at the Steelers' 37.

From there Brown continued up the field and eluded one attempt at a diving tackle by LB Josh McNary at the Steelers' 40 and then another by TE Jack Doyle at the Steelers' 44.

After that it came down to Brown against McAfee at the Colts' 42, and that was a mismatch.

In summation, Brown went five steps to his left, made a right turn and darted untouched all the way to the end zone.

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