INDIANAPOLIS — One night that both offenses struggled to maintain momentum at times was the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ An 11-game, 75-yard run that covered the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth that proved decisive in a 24-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts Monday evening.
Pittsburgh’s rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett and the Steelers’ ground game, along with the Colts’ offensive inefficiency, led to a 16-3 halftime lead for the Steelers, and while the Colts mounted a comeback that briefly gave them an advantage , it was not enough.
The Steelers (4-7) have won two of their last three while the Colts (4-7-1) have lost two of their three under interim coach Jeff on Saturday.
For the second week in a row, the Steelers put points on the board early only to see their advantage quickly vanish with a poor showing after halftime. This time though, the Steelers held on to win. Heading into Monday night, the Steelers were 0-6 entering the fourth quarter. Only the Rams (0-7) have more winless losses when trailing after three quarters this season
The Steelers’ lead evaporated after halftime as the defense gave up 152 yards in the third quarter to matt ryan and the Colts, and the Steelers failed to move the ball. The same issues that plagued the Steelers all season surfaced throughout the game – red zone efficiency, giving up big plays – but this time the Steelers held the Colts in fourth and third to force a rolling on the downs with 30 seconds remaining to seal the win.
QB Breakdown: Although Pickett still struggles with accuracy, missing a wide opening George Pickens in the end zone, and he didn’t finish in the third quarter, the rookie put on his best performance as he led the Steelers to a fourth quarter comeback. Pickett completed 20 of 28 attempts for 174 yards, and he threw multiple lasers at key moments, like on a two-point conversion against Pickens to give the Steelers a 24-17 lead. He also found Diontae Johnson for an eight-yard gain on second down as the Colts blitzed, staying calm under the pressure. The next game he hit Pat Freiermuth on the sidelines for a 17-yard gain to convert third-and-six. The Steelers scored a few plays later with Benny Snell’s touchdown to regain the lead.
Disturbing trend: After amassing 232 yards and 16 first downs in the first half for a 16-3 lead, the Steelers made just eight offensive plays in the third quarter and gained just 18 total yards. The Steelers didn’t have a first down in the third quarter, though they did convert a third down with a big pass from Pickett to George Pickens down the middle on the first play of the fourth quarter. As the offense stalled, the defense, which kept the Colts zero yards in the first quarter, burned out and lost their lead – and nearly gave up two touchdowns, if not for a Colts fumble near the goal line. .
Silver Lining: start running Najee Harris, who scored his third touchdown in two games in the first half, did not play in the second half after sustaining an abdominal injury midway through the second quarter. The Steelers were already unreservedly superior back Jaylen Warren, who was inactive with a hamstring injury, but the running back’s depth intensified on Monday night. Anthony McFarland, active for the first time this season, finished with 30 yards on six carries, and Benny Snell Jr.., usually a special teams player, had 62 yards and his first touchdown since the 2020 season on 12 carries. The Steelers finished with 172 yards rushing, averaging 4.8 yards per carry – and have now scored two rushing touchdowns in three straight games, their longest streak since 2018. — Brooke Prior
Under the radar stat: Pickett has gone three straight without a turnover after committing nine in his first five games.
next game: at the Falcons, Sunday
A dreadful first half and curious late game clock management were the enduring images for the Colts in this game. Indianapolis’ slow start has been remarkable. It was the third time a team was held to zero yards or less in a first quarter this season, with two of those instances involving the Colts (they also did it against the Patriots in Week 9). By the time the Colts awoke from their slumber, they were facing a 16-3 halftime deficit.
But they rallied to take a 17-16 lead before collapsing late. There will be questions about the Colts’ approach in the final minutes. They faced a fourth down from Pittsburgh’s 37 with 2 minutes left – which they converted – but lost 36 seconds between their subsequent first and second down games. They ended up with a rushed game on third down before finally taking a timeout with 30 seconds left. The Colts were stopped on fourth down.
Disturbing trend: Although quarterback Matt Ryan was charged with the fumble, he appeared to be running back Jonathan Taylor who got it wrong on their sloppy rally near the goal line late in the third quarter. It’s a continuation of Taylor’s ball safety issues this season. Taylor has a history of fumbling dating back to his time at the University of Wisconsin, but this season he has three fumbles in nine games. Taylor had four fumbles in 2021, but that came after a record 332 runs. He’s on track for a higher total in 2022.
QB Breakdown: Ryan was under constant pressure in the first half, with the Steelers pressing him on 53% of his backs. The result: Ryan completed 5 of 13 passes for 36 yards. The pressure eased as the offensive line settled down a bit in the second half, allowing Ryan to complete 17 of 21 attempts after halftime. The Colts were also able to take a few down shots, completing a pair of 28-yard passes for Michael Pittman Jr.. and Jelani Wood.
big game: The Colts’ offensive woes in the first half left it looking like Indianapolis could be heading for a blistering loss, but a backup defensive back Dallis Flowers did his part by returning the second-period kickoff from 89 yards. It set up a Taylor touchdown four plays later, but more than that, it was the shot in the arm the Colts badly needed on a night when yards were hard to come by. Flowers’ return cost more yards than the Colts’ total first-half yardage (71 yards). — Stephen Holder
under the radar: The Steelers have now won eight straight against the Colts, the second-longest winning streak of any team against the Colts. They trail only the Dolphins, who won 14 straight from 1980 to 1987.
next game: at the Cowboys, Sunday