Every blade of grass defended again

INDIANAPOLIS _ The two goal-line stands the Steelers forged against the Colts put on tape the value of a safety-first approach.

"Really more than anything it was two nice plays by safeties," head coach Mike Tomlin observed after the Steelers' 28-7 victory on Thursday night at Lucas Oil Stadium. "You get significant plays like that, you have a chance to have a stand."

It was actually three plays from the safety position that proved critical, one by strong safety Sean Davis and two by free safety Mike Mitchell, but who's counting?

Davis stopped Colts quarterback Scott Tolzien for no gain with an open-field tackle on third-and-goal from the Steelers' 1-yard line late in the second quarter.

"My football instincts kicked in," Davis said. "I was tracking him inside out, just gathering myself, not coming in too fast. (Last Sunday in Cleveland) I missed my sacks, I was coming in too fast. I just wanted to gather myself, make him go one way and hit him in the face, man.

"He tried to put a move on me, he slipped and fell and l just put the chair on top."

Tolzien's pass on fourth-and-goal found wide receiver Chester Rogers in the end zone, but Mitchell knocked the ball out of Rogers' grasp before the catch could be completed.

Early in the fourth quarter, Mitchell got to Tolzien on another keeper on third-and-goal from the Steelers' 2 and brought him down 1 yard shy of the goal line.

Game action from Week 12 against the Indianapolis Colts.

Mitchell, who also had an interception, attributed his timely contributions to preparation.

"I don't watch film just to watch film," he said. "I'm out there to try to make plays. I learned that from Troy (Polamalu), Troy always said, 'Don't watch film just to watch it. You watch film to make plays.'

"I've really been trying to apply that and it showed up (Thursday night)."

The Steelers also had a goal-line stand in Cleveland.

Two such stands in three games is something Mitchell maintains the defense can potentially build upon.

"We're gonna try to," he said. "We knew what type of team we were playing. They were desperate, we were desperate, two teams that still had a lot at stake. You saw the (Colts') fake punt, we knew it was going to be played that type of way.

"We were expecting to get stops and we did."

GREEN DAY: Tight end Ladarius Green had two receptions for 67 yards, one for 35 and one for 32, his two longest receptions of the season and the two longest by a Steelers' tight end this season.

The significance of both wasn't lost on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

"Huge," Roethlisberger said. "We've said if teams want to take away the outside we need someone to help us in the middle."

Green has five catches for 97 yards in three games.

"I still have a ways to go," he said. "I did some things, but I could have done some things better, too. I have to motivate myself. I still have to go out there and work. I still have to get better.

"When you see guys like (running back) Le'Veon (Bell) and 'A.B.' (wide receiver Antonio Brown) out there making the plays that they make, you just want to get better for them."


'A.B.' HAT TRICK**: Brown had three receiving TDs in a game for the first time in his career.

"It was definitely amazing to do it on Thanksgiving," Brown said. "It's an honor playing with Ben. He's always putting me in great position, making some great throws.

"Grateful to do it on a great stage like this and it feels even better to get a win."

THEY SAID IT: "We know it's time. It's time for us to roll our sleeves up, show our identity, put our will on display and find a way to do what we desire to do." _ Brown on the Steelers' approach to the regular season's stretch run.

"To be determined." _ Brown on the exact nature of the Steelers' identity.

"Forget what they've done, I'm excited about what they're going to do or what they're capable of doing moving forward. They work hard every day, they're getting better. They're adding detail to their game every week. The first thing is all three guys are likeable young guys. They endear themselves to the older players. The older players want to help them, and that helps them help us. They're humble, hard working, and that helps them get help from veteran players. It just needs to continue." _ Tomlin on cornerback Artie Burns, Davis and nose tackle Javon Hargrave starting as rookies.

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