And doesn’t that just about sum it up? An ugly ass win is a still a win, but man … wow.
I didn’t expect this game to be an easy win, mainly because there is no such thing as an easy win in the NFL. Especially when you’re going on the road against a desperate team in need of a win on national television. But, even so, I figured the best chance for the Colts to pull off the upset was to have Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis cause chaos, the Steelers turn the ball over, and the Colts defense turn one of them into a touchdown. And that’s almost exactly what happened.
After the Steelers jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, thanks to an 81-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace, the Steelers offense went into meltdown mode in the final eight minutes of the second quarter, turning the ball over three times (two strip sacks by the aforementioned defensive ends, one of which was returned for a touchdown) and an interception on one of the few bad passes that Roethlisberger threw all night. The Colts managed to turn those turnovers into 13 points and take a field goal lead into the half.
The combination of Freeney-Mathis and the Steelers offensive line kept this game close. And about that offensive line? If you thought they had problems before, well, just read the headline. We almost saw a tight end play tackle. The Steelers dressed seven offensive linemen tonight and all seven of them had to play due to injuries, and then one of the injured players (rookie right tackle Marcus Gilbert) had to return to the game to play left tackle after Jonathan Scott left with some sort of leg injury. Doug Legursky was injured. Scott was injured. Gilbert was injured. Willie Colon is injured.
Overall, the offensive line looked dreadful based on my instant knee jerk reaction. The running game was nonexistent while the Colts were generating an impressive pass rush with what appeared to be just four rushers on most of the snaps. It seemed that on a number of plays the Colts were using a four-man rush and beating six blockers. Easily. Freeney and Mathis are great players, no doubt, but they put on a clinic tonight and nearly won the game by themselves.
After Shaun Suisham drilled a field goal attempt off the upright late in the third quarter, he hit a 40-yarder early in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 13. Eventually, James Farrior caught Kerry Collins with a hit that may draw a fine and knocked him out of the game with a possible concussion, which led to Curtis Painter coming off the bench. He had a bad start. After missing a WIDE OPEN Pierre Garcon — after Ike Taylor bit, badly, on a double move — Painter was drilled by James Harrison. Painter lost the ball and Troy Polamalu was there to scoop it up and walk into the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown with five minutes to play.
Game over, right? Well, you know what they say: You can never give Curtis Painter five minutes to get a game-tying touchdown. What’s that? Nobody says that? Hell.
Painter threw the Colts’ two best passes of the night to help get them deep into Steelers territory. On a third-and-two play from inside the five-yard line, and with just over two minutes to play, Polamalu nearly blew up a play in the backfield but missed it by a split second, allowing the Colts to tie the game at 20.
The Steelers took the ensuing kickoff and moved the ball down the field, thanks to a couple of nice plays from Mewelde Moore, to allow Suisham to kick the game-winner with four seconds to play.
So there it all is. Here are some more thoughts…
– It was just another day at the office for Mike Wallace, catching five passes for 144 yards and an 81-yard touchdown.
– Antonio Brown made a couple of nice catches and had two great punt returns. Second week in a row he’s looked good, which is nice after a slow start in week 1.
– The problem with first impressions is you only get to make one, and the first pass Wesyle Saunders saw in his NFL career bounced off his face mask (he was wide open for what would have been a first down). Amazingly, he was able to use that blunder to show off his athleticism by lunging backward and making a nice one-handed catch, taking the ball away from a Colts defender. But still, that was a big drop.
– Emmanuel Sanders had a big drop on the first drive, allowing a perfectly thrown pass from Roethlisberger to go through his hands and forcing the Steelers to settle for a field goal. Still, his worst mistake of the night was not tagging down a defender following an interception. Not only did he not touch the guy, he actually WENT OUT OF HIS WAY TO AVOID HIM (he jumped over him). He did have a bit catch on third and 18 later in the game.
– Troy Polamalu looked like Troy Polamalu. Aaron Smith looked like he is done.
– Reggie Wayne was targeted on 13 passes. He caught three for 24 yards, a long of 11, and at least two of those passes were of the bubble screen variety. Ike Taylor playing great? Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter playing like Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter? Yes. And Yes
– When he wasn’t turning the ball over Roethlisberger looked great, I thought. The final line is impressive, completing 28 of 37 passes for 364 yards (over nine yards per attempt) and a touchdown.
– Is there anybody out there that can play tackle?