The Steelers will take on the Colts on Thursday night in a Thanksgiving night matchup, and it’s likely the Colts will do so without starting quarterback Andrew Luck, who is in concussion protocol.
If Luck can’t go it will be Scott Tolzien who will lead the Colts offense, and he will have plenty to deal with in a Steelers’ defense that exploded with eight sacks against the Browns.
“We have to do a great job,” said Colts’ Coach Chuck Pagano. “We have been a little bit better in the last couple of weeks of protecting our quarterback. You have a great unit and defense coming in here off a huge game. We all saw what they did against the Browns and what they are capable of. They have a bunch of really good football players on that side of the football, guys that are big, strong and talented and can put pressure on the quarterback and do it from every level, up front, from linebacker depth and guys in the secondary that can play.
“Those guys are playing at a high level. They have guys that can make plays and put pressure on the quarterback. They are hard to run against. When you get behind and you become one dimensional, it usually adds up to multiple sacks. We have our hands full. We are going to worry about us and trying to get those guys blocked.”
The Colts’ T.Y. Hilton and Antonio Brown have a long history and friendship. The both grew up in the same Gwen Cherry Park neighborhood of Liberty City, outside of Miami, and have played against each other several times since being in the NFL. Hilton even had fun ‘stealing’ one of Brown’s touchdown dances.
Hilton said he is looking forward to another matchup with Brown on Thursday night.
“We grew up together,” said Hilton. “We call every other week. I can’t wait to see him again and go out there and play.”
The Steelers played the Colts the last two years at Heinz Field, winning 45-10 in 2015 and 51-34 in 2014. But like Ben Roethlisberger said on Tuesday, it’s a new team out there.
“It’s a team that just finds a way to beat us,” said Hilton of the Steelers. “Right now it’s a different team, different mindset and we are looking forward to the game on Thursday.”
They said it:
Tackle Jack Mewhort on what he remembers about the Pittsburgh game the last two years:
“Going to Pittsburgh and playing there last year on Sunday Night Football and a few years having the night game there was a tough place to play. I think we are excited about the opportunity moving forward. Tough football team, always have been. They do a great job on defense, especially in their front seven. I feel like I say it every week, in the NFL you are playing a great front seven. As an offensive line that is something that we are going to have to prepare for and be able to execute against if we want to have success.”
Coach Chuck Pagano on the Steelers:
"Got great respect and admiration for this organization, the Rooney family, the job that Coach (Mike) Tomlin does and has done for a long period of time. Really, really good football team, like we talked about. All three phases – we’ve got our hands full. Offensively, you’re talking about having to defend a hall of fame quarterback and a running back that’s as good as there is in the league and a wide receiver that can score from anywhere on the field along with a bunch of other players. Offensive line that’s well built. They’re big and they’re physical. That’s going to be a huge challenge for us to stop the run and limit the big plays. You just can’t do it. You can’t let the ball get over your head. For our offense, you’re talking about a defense that’s tough to run against, always has been. They’ve got big, thick, hard-charging, rugged 3-4 type bodies out there across the front seven, playmakers in the back end. Again, tough to run against. We’re going to have to have some early down success to try to get in third and manageable. If you’re in third-and-long against this group, you’re asking for problems. Eight sacks last week, they’ve got a bunch of guys who can get after you. (James) Harrison is still playing at a high, high level and then special teams, they’ve got returners that can hurt you. Guys that rush the punts and things like that, rush field goals so we’re going to have to play great complementary football.”