STEELERS 45, COLTS 10**
Steelers' record: 7-5
One year ago: 7-5
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead, 22-6
When Coach Mike Tomlin admitted to the possibility of personnel changes in the secondary during his news conference on the Tuesday before the game, that immediately became an issue of primary importance throughout Steelers Nation. A couple of days before the game, Tomlin clarified.
The Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field for a Week 13 matchup.
"What I was saying was that I wasn't going to make wholesale changes based on what happened in Seattle," said Tomlin. "Yes, I was going to give additional opportunities to Brandon Boykin, because I think the inconsistencies in play warrant that. But I also am committed to giving those guys – Ross Cockrell and Antwon Blake – an opportunity to redeem themselves in the stadium today."
As for his overall expectations for the game, Tomlin said, "We have to be prepared to play for 60 minutes. It's going to be high energy. It's a big game. We have to use that energy for good. We need to settle in and play and complement one another as opposed to back one another up. What I mean is: backing one another up is the defense taking the field and making them kick a field goal after a turnover. I'm looking more at the positive aspect in this game: the defense gets a stop, the offense gets a score, the defense gets a stop. That's what's going to produce the kind of momentum that will allow us to win the football game."
HOW THE STORYLINE PLAYED OUT
True to his word, Tomlin didn't make wholesale changes in the secondary as much as the personnel rotation provided more playing time for Boykin on defense than he has had in any game since being traded to the Steelers back on Aug. 1. The way it worked was this: when the Steelers were in their base 3-4 alignment, it was Will Gay and Antwon Blake as the starting cornerbacks; when the Steelers went to their nickel, Ross Cockrell and Boykin came on, with Gay and Cockrell manning the outside positions with Boykin in the slot.
Boykin finished the game with an interception off a pass that Gay first batted into the air, and he also had another pass defensed. Gay finished with six tackles and one pass defensed; Cockrell had two tackles and two passes defensed; and Blake had one tackle on defense and one tackle on special teams.
As for the rest of it, Tomlin got the complementary play he was seeking during an eight-minute stretch of the second quarter when the Steelers turned a 10-6 deficit into the 21-10 lead they took into the locker room at halftime.
After Matt Hasselbeck completed a 9-yard pass to Frank Gore for what would turn out to be the Colts' only touchdown, Ben Roethlisberger drove the Steelers 80 yards in eight plays capped by a 7-yard pass to Antonio Brown for a touchdown and a two-point conversion pass to Will Johnson. Then the defense followed with a three-and-out, with Darrius Heyward-Bey saving the day for the punt return unit by recovering Jacoby Jones' muff at the Steelers' 40-yard line. Then it was Roethlisberger's turn again, and this time it was an eight-play, 60-yard drive capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass to Markus Wheaton.
FIRST HALF STAT THAT STANDS OUT
The Steelers had twice as many first downs (12-6), more than twice as many yards (252-114), and more than twice as many points (21-10) as the Colts.
It may have come within the first minute of the game. Jacoby Jones fumbled the opening kickoff, and the Colts recovered at the Steelers 11-yard line, but an interception by Jarvis Jones at the 1-yard line kept Indianapolis off the scoreboard and prevented the Steelers from falling behind early.
THINGS ACTUALLY SAID OVER THE REFEREE'S MIC
"There is no flag for defensive holding on the play, because the ball was in the air."
"That's a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct for using the goal post as a prop."