WHAT WENT RIGHT
* It's not typically good news when an opponent takes the opening kickoff and marches to a field goal, but when Indianapolis did just that it felt as something of a win for the Steelers. The big play on the drive was a 45-yard catch-and-run by T.Y. Hilton. But ultimately it came down to a third-and-3 from the Steelers 13-yard line, and after Andrew Luck misfired on an attempt to Hakeem Nicks, the Colts settled for a field goal.
- Answering scores with scores was going to be critical for the Steelers in this game, and even better if they would happen to answer a field goal by scoring a touchdown. With Ben Roethlisberger completing 5-for-5 for 63 yards, including the 18-yard touchdown to Markus Wheaton, the Steelers drove 80 yards to take a 7-3 lead midway through the first quarter.
- Getting off the field on third down took on even more importance going against a Colts team that came into the game averaging almost 37 minutes in time of possession. On Indianapolis' second possession, the Steelers defense got a three-and-out with good pressure on Andrew Luck by Troy Polamalu and Jason Worilds on second down, and then by Worilds again on third down.
- Following the three-and-out, the Steelers offense again out together a long drive that ended in the end zone. This time it was 12 plays and 76 yards, and the Steelers only faced one third-down situation before the ball ended up in the end zone on a 5-yard touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant. On this drive, Roethlisberger completed 5-of-6 for 53 yards and the touchdown.
- Takeaways, especially takeaways that end up in the end zone have been a rarity for the Steelers of late, but William Gay took advantage of a somewhat sloppy route by Hakeem Nicks. It was a sideline pattern, and Gay cut in front to make the interception and return it 33 yards for the touchdown that upped the Steelers lead to 21-3.
- Following the Colts touchdown that cut their lead to 21-10, the Steelers offense again put together a drive that covered almost the entire length of the field. When it ended, it was a 76-yard drive that took 12 plays and ended with an 8-yard touchdown to Antonio Brown, but it seemed as though the Steelers were going to have to settle for a field goal this time. But on a fourth-and-2 at the Colts 13-yard line, a hard count drew safety Colt Anderson offside and the Steelers had a first down. Then, it was Ben Roethlisberger throwing his third touchdown pass of the game, and the Steelers had a 28-10 lead.
- Throughout the first half, Roethlisberger had been getting the ball out of his hand quickly against a Colts team that came into the game ranked second in sacks per pass attempt. But on a first-and-10 from the Indianapolis 47-yard line, Roethlisberger held the ball as the rush closed in around him, he stepped away from DT Arthur Jones, moved to his right to get away from Bjoern Werner and found Antonio Brown on a broken play that resulted in the touchdown that upped the Steelers lead to 35-10.
- The opening possession of the second half is seen as critical by coaches, and the Steelers continued doing what they had done throughout the first half. The Colts defense came into this game ranked No. 1 in the NFL in third down conversions, but Ben Roethlisberger made big plays on two such situations to key an 80-yard touchdown drive. The first was a 9-yard hookup with Antonio Brown to convert a third-and-6, and the second was a 49-yard catch-and-run by Heath Miller to convert a third-and-8. The touchdown pass – to Martavis Bryant – was his third in two weeks.
- Two plays after LeGarrette Blount's lost fumble in the fourth quarter, Andrew Luck was under center on second-and-10. After taking the nap and trying to drop back, he was tripped by guard Hugh Thornton and fell onto his back just into the end zone. Luck then threw the ball blindly to an open area and thus was flagged for intentional grounding. Since he did it in his own end zone, it was a safety, and the Steelers led, 44-34.
- Mike Tomlin said he pulled Cortez Allen from the lineup in the fourth quarter because "he was giving it up, and we needed stops." Inserted in his place at cornerback was Antwon Blake, who iced the outcome of the game with an interception of an Andrew Luck pass intended for T.Y. Hilton in the end zone with 2:48 remaining in the game.
WHAT WENT WRONG
* Penalties on special teams. It was only a 38-yard punt by Pat McAfee midway through the first quarter, but a holding penalty on Darrius Heyward-Bey meant the Steelers were starting their second possession of the game at their own 24-yard line.
Photos from the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 8 game against the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field
- Penalties on defense. On the possession following William Gay's interception return for a touchdown, the Steelers defense seemed to have gotten off the field when Cam Heyward batted Andrew Luck's pass on third down. But Mike Mitchell was flagged for holding, and on the next play, Luck teamed with Donte Moncrief for a 52-yard catch-and-run. That play jump-started a drive that ended in a touchdown pass to Dwayne Allen, and the Steelers lead had been cut to 21-10 with just under 12 minutes left in the second quarter.
- The Colts had cut the lead to 35-17, but the Steelers remained aggressive on offense, and maybe a bit too aggressive in this instance. On a second-and-10 from the Colts 40-yard line, Ben Roethlisberger completed a 6-yard pass to Le'Veon Bell, and Coach Mike Tomlin used the Steelers second timeout to stop the clock with 44 seconds left. When a third down pass was incomplete, and then Roethlisberger's attempted pooch punt was blocked, the Colts had the time they needed – plus their three timeouts – to get into position for a final play field goal that made the halftime score, 35-20.
- It was 42-27, and the Steelers started their possession, as usual, at the 20-yard line. Ben Roethlisberger completed a pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey, who made the catch, went to the ground, got up without being touched and had the ball knocked out by Darius Butler. The fumble was recovered by Mike Adams at the Steelers 36-yard line.
- On first down, the Steelers defense could have pushed the Colts behind the chains when LT Anthony Costanzo was flagged for holding, but that penalty was offset by an illegal use of hands on Troy Polamalu, and so the down was re-played.
- Three plays after the turnover, Andrew Luck hit Donte Moncrief with a 31-yard pass for the touchdown that cut the Steelers lead to 42-34 with 2:35 left in the third quarter.
- Another second half turnover for the Steelers, and this one cost them points. With a 42-34 lead early in the fourth quarter, LeGarrette Blount was fighting for extra yardage when linebacker Andy Studebaker ripped the ball loose and recovered it himself at the Indianapolis 5-yard line.