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Steelers-Colts Recap

Steelers win a wild one at home, 51-34, over the Andrew Luck-led Colts. Big Ben has a historic day.

The Good – As mentioned, Big Ben had a historic day, 522 yards, 6 TD’s and a 80%+ completion percentage. He is the only QB to have 2 500 yard plus games and is only the 4th QB to have 100 wins in the first 150 games started. Wow. Congrats, Big Ben. His actual performance was fantastic, almost every pass perfect.

– The WR corps had their coming out party in a way. Antonio Brown was his reliable self, snagging 2 TD’s, including one fantastic one handed grab in the endzone and another 100+ yard receiving game but Wheaton and rookie Martavius Bryant also contributed in big ways. Bryant had 2 TD’s  and a couple huge catches, Wheaton had 1 TD and 5 grabs. A complete performance all around. Even Lance Moore chipped in with 2 grabs. We could also add Heyward-Bey but he fumbled after making his lone reception.

– The O-line simply dominated the Colts defense all game long, which was key in helping Ben make history. Ben had ample time on most of his throws and the run blocking was solid. Just image if Ben had this kind of protection for most of his career. The much criticized Mike Adams had a great game at right tackle.

– The defense was playing like it was 2006. Aggressive throughout with blitzes which generated relentless pressure on Andrew Luck. In a weird way it reminded me of the 2006 divisional playoff game against the Manning-led Colts where Manning’s pocket collapsed play after play. It was beautiful to watch but it makes one wonder where this was in the previous 7 games this year.

– 3rd down efficiency was fantastic with the team finishing 8/13 but at one point it was actually 8/10.

– Ryan Shazier, returning from injury, looked good early on with a nice open field tackle resulting in no gain on a short dump off pass. Could’ve easily gone for 5 or 10 yards. It looked like Shazier may have been injured later in the game, not a good sign.

– Special teams coverage was once again great with a number of Colts drives starting inside their own 20 yard line.

– Big play Willie Gay really opened up the lead for the Steelers in the 1st half with his pick 6.

– The playcalling overall was simply superb, mixing run and pass plays beautifully. Passes were all over the field, deep, middle, short. The Colts defense had no idea how to defend what they were seeing. At first they tried blitzing, didn’t work and were forced to back off and they still struggled for most of the game.

The Bad – The game didn’t start very well with the Colts marching down the field with relative ease on the opening drive before settling for a FG.

– Maybe the most troubling thing about the win was even with the constant pressure on Luck that the Steelers defense created the team still struggled to contain Luck and the Colts offense as they rang up 34 points. The secondary, and Cortez Allen in particular, struggled to cover receivers effectively at times. To be fair, there were some horrendous flags that helped to keep Colts drives alive. More about that later. Also, Andrew Luck is pretty damn good.

– Too many penalties again at bad times, although some were bullshit. Some boneheaded turnovers as well and some sloppy play in the 2nd half like the delay of game penalty in the 4th quarter. I don’t understand how something like that happens but it’s an all too common occurrence with this team unfortunately.

– The Big Ben quick kick/punt was just dumb. Kick ended up being blocked and recovered around the Colts 40. Led to points for the Colts.

– The feeling that even with big leads at times in the game that the Steelers were never really in complete control until the final score late in the 4th quarter sealed the deal. That goes back to coaching and the overall mental makeup of the team which is a reflection of the coaching. No lead is ever safe with this team. Consider that the Steelers lead was cut at one point in the 2nd half to just 8 points, 34-42 and stayed that way until Luck luckily (for the Steelers) fell on his ass at his own goal line and the Steelers got a safety out of it.

The Real Bad – Once again NFL officiating is a giant steaming pile of shit. A ton of bad or at the very least very borderline calls went against the Steelers defense for a good bit of the game and to be fair there were a couple of really bad calls on the Colts defense late in the game as well. I think this game might’ve broken the record for the most illegal contact penalties in one game. It was ridiculous and I’m baffled that the NFL doesn’t realize that this is not good for the game, throwing a stream of flags onto the field just slows down what is an entertaining game and gives an unfair advantage to the offense when the rules already favor that side of the ball. Just stop please, it’s ruining the game.

Summary – It was great to see Ben and the offense kick some serious ass and the team get a win over a quality opponent. Next week is a huge divisional game against the Ravens. Every team in the AFC North is amazingly above .500 right now. There isn’t much room for error going forward. I’ve asked this for years now after the Steelers put up a good performance – can it continue? Or will the Steelers revert back to loser ball like so many other times in recent years under Tomlin after a big win? Until proven otherwise it’s best to remain skeptical, or at best cautiously optimistic going forward. We shall see.

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