What a strange game. At times it looked like a boring affair, at times it had you on the edge of your seat. At times the Steelers looked like they were in cruise control, at times the Colts looked like they were going to pull off the upset. The Steelers looked like they played down to the level of an inferior opponent, a problem that has plagued them all too often in recent seasons. Despite a few late-game scares, the black and gold held on for the win. Recap after the jump.no comments
After a quarter, it looked like the Pittsburgh Steelers would steamroll the Indianapolis Colts just like everybody but expected. But, once again, turnovers by the Steelers and a long Indianapolis TD drive led by...Curtis Painter made this one a lot more interesting than the Steelers would have liked. A Shaun Suisham field goal with under 10 seconds left pushed the Steelers to a 23-20 victory.
The Steelers offensive line was putrid once again and Ben Roethlisberger was under siege all night long. Roethlisberger fumbled twice, one of which was returned for a TD by Jamaal Anderson. The offensive line also failed to run block against a small and usually weak defensive front for Indianapolis. Rashard Mendenhall averaged 2.1 yards on 18 carries. Ugh.
But that's not all. The Steelers lost 3 more starting offensive lineman during this one. LT Jonathan Scott, who was abused all game by Dwight Freeney, left the game late in the 4th quarter with what looked like a serious lower leg injury. I would expect him to miss some significant time. Starting RT Marcus Gilbert also missed most of the 2nd half with an injury, but he returned for a couple of plays on the last drive after Scott's injury. Doug Legursky also got banged up with an arm/shoulder injury, but it didn't look too serious.
After a long Mike Wallace TD catch in the first quarter, the Steelers failed to score a TD until James Harrison hit Curtis Painter forcing a fumble that Troy Polamalu returned for a TD. It was the first turnover that the Steelers have forced in 2011.
As Mike Tomlin says, style points don't matter in the NFL and this one looks the same in the standings as last week's blowout win against Seattle.
But it's hard to not be discouraged after an effort like this against an Indianapolis team that isn't very good. The Steelers are making too many mistakes on both sides of the ball and certainly don't look like a Super Bowl contender at this point.
Simply put, they've got to play better starting next week. The Steelers face a potent passing attack and a pass rusher even better than Dwight Freeney in Houston.
8:20 PM | Lucas Oil Stadium | TV: NBC
The Indianapolis Colts have long been looked at as one of the model franchises in the NFL along with teams like the Steelers, Patriots and others.
But with Peyton Manning's injury, the Colts are now a shell of their former selves and are a cautionary tale for all NFL franchises.
A player like Peyton Manning only comes around every 20 years or so and the Colts did a great job drafting and developing him. But Manning's skills and work ethic were able to cover up a lot of mistakes that the franchise has made over the last 10+ years.
The Colts rocky start to 2011 is a lesson to all teams that player development, drafting and coaching matter no matter how well the team is performing. While the Colts have been elite, their drafting has been poor. Since 2005, their first round draft picks have been Marlin Jackson, Joseph Addai, Anthony Gonzalez, Donald Brown, Jerry Hughes and Anthony Castonzo. The jury is still out on a few of those players, but so far none have had the type of impact that you'd like to see from a 1st round pick.
The Colts have always been one injury away from being a 6-10 team and it's an amazing testament to Peyton Manning that it hasn't caught up to them until now.
Three Things To Watch For
1. Freeney and Mathis. The Colts have a very quick pass rush off the edge, especially at home. Roethlisberger is going to get knocked around a little bit in this one. Hopefully the protection is good enough that the Steelers can still put up some points.
2. Fast track for Steelers WRs. While the turf helps out the Colts pass rush, it's also going to be a boost for the Steelers young WRs. Look for Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown to go down the field often. Matt Schaub was able to exploit the Indianapolis secondary in Week One and I'd expect the Steelers to try and do the same thing.
3. Make Collins feel the heat. Kerry Collins might be the most immobile quarterback the Steelers face all season. He's also looked rusty early on in the season. The Steelers need to make him miserable in and out of the pocket all game long. Pittsburgh should be primed for a dominant performance from their linebackers.
As I mentioned on the radio with ESPN Williamsport last week, this is pretty much a lose-lose situation for the Steelers. Everybody is expecting them to blow out and dominate the Colts. Anything less than that is going to feel like a letdown. I think the Colts will be able to move the ball through the air at least a little bit and their WRs will make the game interesting at least for a while. Steelers 24 Colts 14.
Raheem Brock was fined by the NFL for hitting Ben Roethlisberger in the knee on Sunday. He has decided to appeal the fine. This post is about Raheem Brock not understanding what is going on.
This past Sunday, Ben Roethlisberger completed a long pass to Heath Miller down the sideline. It was, however, a negative play because Seahawks defensive lineman Raheem Brock came off a block as Ben threw his pass, and dove into the side of the quarterback's right knee. Brock was flagged for roughing the passer, but Steeler Nation's attention was immediately focused on Ben's knee. We all know why, but go ahead and read on after the jump.
The NFL did something than other sports *cough* have been lacking for a long time:
You fake an injury, the NFL comes down on you for it.
This raises a few questions.
Yesterday's 24-0 dismantling of the Seattle Seahawks was refreshing if nothing else. It was nice to see Troy Polamalu running around like a crazy man and Bruce Arians dialing up WR passes.
But it's hard to avoid putting an asterisk on yesterday's events. While talented, Seattle is a rebuilding team who was missing an elite WR in Sidney Rice. I'm not worried about Tavaris Jackson and Mike Williams tormenting the Steelers, but the Steelers did nothing yesterday to prove that Joe Flacco or Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers or any half decent passing offense can't have their way with Pittsburgh in the passing game.
Yesterday's win was nice, but the Steelers will have to wait at least until October 2nd at Houston to begin to cement their identity in 2011. Even the Browns were able to contain the Peyton Manning-less Colts last week and I would expect the Steelers to do the same on their worst day. So while the 24-0 win was definitely a step in the right direction, the Steelers will only be able to prove that the Week 1 disaster was an anamoly when they face a quality opponent.
We will have to wait a couple games at least for that test.
-B- The offensive line has accepted all of the blame for the Steelers short yardage failures yesterday. I agree with the assessment of the blame, but what is most troubling is that this has been an issue for years and there seems to be no real fix in the works.
-B- Here's the 2nd half thread from yesterday's game at Seahawk Addicts.
-B- Looking ahead to next week's tilt at Indianapolis, 18to88 recaps their game against Cleveland and has some thoughts on the Colts franchise as a whole. Not an easy time to be an Indy fan to say the least.
-B- Heading into tonight's MNF game, Mike Wallce is 2nd in the NFL with 18 receptions through 2 games.
Hey, bridge-jumpers. You done panicking yet? Yeah, a bad game against a division rival sucks. That's over. The Steelers righted the ship and did their business against an overmatched team. Was it perfect? No, but it was close. To anyone who hopped off the bandwagon, why are you even reading this blog? Everyone else, hit the recap.
The Ravens came out ready to play today. The Steelers didn't. That's pretty much how it worked. What a huge win for Baltimore. They've been looking for this kind of game for like 4 years now. In this post, I wish terrible things on people I don't know, and make fun of Jon Harbaugh for being a prick.