Steelers' competitiveness evident in Indy

A look at Steelers 28, Colts 7 via the magic of the DVR:


WHATEVER IT TAKES:** The Steelers' defense is starting to make defending every blade of grass a habit.

On Nov. 20 in Cleveland, a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line ultimately resulted in a field goal for the Browns.

And on Thursday night in Indianapolis, the Steelers held on downs on consecutive first-and-goal opportunities for the Colts.

Second quarter:

First-and-goal, Steelers' 2-yard line: The Colts went with two tight ends (Jack Doyle was lined up at fullback), two wide receivers and a running back. The Steelers countered with their base defense, with Ryan Shazier and Arthur Moats at outside linebacker and with Robert Golden at free safety for Mike Mitchell, who had suffered a stinger on the previous play. Quarterback Scott Tolzien motioned right and running back Frank Gore took a Wildcat snap and followed Doyle. Jones beat guard Denzelle Good and then got under Doyle, which slowed Gore enough to allow strong safety Sean Davis, unblocked off the right edge, to track Gore down from behind for no gain.

Second-and-goal, Steelers' 2: The Colts went with three wide receivers, a tight end and Gore. The Steelers stayed with their base personnel. Gore got the ball again but linebacker Ryan Shazier shot the gap between left tackle Anthony Castonzo (blocking Jones) and left guard Jack Mewhort (blocking defensive tackle Javon Hargrave). Shazier made contact with Gore at the 3, which slowed him up enough to allow defensive end Ricardo Mathews to make the tackle after a gain of 1.

Third-and-goal, Steelers' 1: The Colts went with three tight ends (including eligible offensive tackle Joe Reitz), Robert Turbin at fullback and Gore. The Steelers turned to a goal-line defense that included linemen Stephon Tuitt, Vince Williams, Hargrave and Mathews, linebackers Moats, Jones, Shazier, Ryan Shazier and Vince Williams, and safeties Golden and Davis. After a play-action fake to Gore, Tolzien rolled right and looked for tight end Dwayne Allen, who was covered by Golden. Tolzien tucked the ball under his right arm at the 9 and headed for the end zone. Davis, who had underneath coverage on Allen, charged out of the end zone to meet Tolzien, who stumbled trying to make a cut and was stopped by Davis at the 1. No gain.

Fourth-and-goal, Steelers' 1: The Colts tried three wide receivers, a tight end, a running back and Tolzien in the shotgun from an empty set. The Steelers went with their nickel (Mitchell returned, replacing Golden). Tolzien got the ball to wide receiver Chester Rogers in the end zone. Rogers deflected it with his left hand and was securing it with both hands when Mitchell blasted it from Rogers' grasp. Incomplete pass, ball over on downs.

Third quarter/fourth quarter:  

First-and-goal, Steelers' 6: The Colts ran Durbin out of a three-wide receivers, one-tight end, one-running back set. The Steelers' nickel, with Bud Dupree and Jones at outside linebacker, limited him to a 2-yard gain.

Second-and-goal, Steelers' 4: The Colts tried two tight ends, two wide receivers and Gore against the Steelers' base defense. Gore gained 2 yards.

Third-and-goal: The Steelers stayed with their base package even though the Colts opted for three wide receivers, a tight end and a running back. Gore motioned left pre-snap, Tolzien accepted a shotgun snap, took a two-step drop and then headed for the end zone between Good (blocking Mathews) and right tackle Joe Haeg (dealing with Tuitt). Mitchell, 4 yards deep in the end zone initially, read the play and met Tolzien at the 2. Hargrave and Dupree were waiting in case Mitchell missed the tackle (he didn't). Gain of 1.

Take a look at the best photos from the Week 12 Thanksgiving night game against the Colts. The Steelers defeated the Colts 28-7.

Fourth-and-goal, Steelers' 1: The Colts tried three wide receivers, a tight end and a running back against the Steelers' base one more time. Tolzien hit wide receiver Phillip Dorsett in the end zone in front of Timmons, but Dorsett dropped the ball. Incomplete pass, ball over on downs.

ANOTHER WRINKLE: The Steelers dabbled with a five-linebackers, three-safeties, no-cornerbacks defense on Nov. 13 against Dallas.

Against the Colts, they tried replacing cornerback Artie Burns with Golden for a one-cornerback, three-safeties set on a couple of occasions.

The first was in response to a three-tight ends, one-wide receiver, one-running back set in the first quarter. The Colts ran Gore from a formation that suggested a run was coming and he was stopped for no gain.

Two downs later, on third-and-1 from the Steelers' 29, the Steelers tried it again with the Colts again deploying three tight ends (Doyle was at fullback) a wide receiver and a running back. The Colts tried to pass this time after a play-action fake to Durbin but Tolzien was sacked by linebacker William Gay.

LAUNCHING PAD: NBC's broadcast didn't air Tony Dungy's remarks upon receiving his Hall-of-Fame ring during a halftime ceremony. But Dungy, who coached the Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI, acknowledged his time as a player and an assistant coach with the Steelers while addressing the crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium and again with the media after the ceremony.

"The Steelers was where I started my career and got such a foundation from the Rooney family and from Chuck Noll and nine Hall-of-Fame teammates," Dungy said.

NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth asked Dungy if he's seen anyone who runs the way Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell does during Dungy's visit to the broadcast booth in the fourth quarter.

"You won't believe this but Franco Harris," Dungy said. "(Bell is) just so patient, great vision, great patience, a smaller Franco Harris, actually."

HE SAID IT: "The Pittsburgh Steelers, at their best, are among the best competitors in the National Football League and it showed up on the goal line." _ Collinsworth.

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