The Steelers appeared to be half asleep against the Colts this past Sunday coming off their bye week. Though Pittsburgh eventually squeaked out a win with a field goal as time expired, they were anything but perfect in this one.
Here are my Steelers winners and losers from week 10 against the Colts.
Heyward continues to be one of the most consistent producers on either side of the ball for Pittsburgh. Though his numbers weren't overly impressive (2 tackles, 2 QB hits), he was a beast yet again against the run and got consistent pressure on Jacoby Brissett. Heyward was handed a 92.7 grade from Pro Football Focus this week - the best for either team in this contest.
Sometimes I will lump Heyward and Tuitt together in the winner's column, but they each performed well enough to be applauded as individuals in this win. Tuitt received the third highest grade from Pro Football Focus in this one for the Steelers. In his return from a back injury, Tuitt compiled 3 tackles (all for a loss), 1 sack, and a whopping 4 QB hits against the Colts. He also had an additional sack that was called back due to a penalty.
JuJu is one of the fastest rising players in the NFL right now. Though it would have been nearly impossible to repeat his performance from last week, he still managed 97 yards and a touchdown on just 7 targets - making him yet again the most efficient receiver on Pittsburgh's offense. JuJu now has 5 touchdown catches before his 21st birthday.
Martavis Bryant did exactly what he needed to do in this one. Though he lost 9 yards on his lone carry that was sniffed out by the Colts defense, he posted 42 yards and a catch on a 2-point conversion on 5 targets. His 19-yard catch and run on the last drive of the game helped seal a win for the Steelers.
Hilton had yet another good performance in this game. While Burns and Sensabaugh both had big plays given up on their side, Hilton was a monster from the slot - excelling in both coverage and run support. He's a missile off the edge when blitzing, and though he will never control the stat sheet, he has been the most consistent player in a talented secondary.
Usually, if a punter is making this list it's not a good sign of the team's overall performance. However, Berry deserves some credit in this one. After being forced to punt the ball 6 times (against the Colts, mind you) Berry managed 49.5 yards per punt and put the defense in good position to start drives. He also played a part in chasing down the ball carrier after the blocked field goal nearly went for 2 points the other way.
Call me crazy, but Conner looked more explosive on his single attempt than Bell did all afternoon. His 12-yard gain nearly matched Bell's high for the day (on 25 less carries). I know his sample size per game is small, but with Conner averaging 5.3 yards per carry on the season (19 carries for 101 yards), is it too much to ask to get him involved more?
Yes, Le'Veon Bell had a large workload. Though he did help move the chains on occasion, he was surprisingly inefficient. Bell posted just 80 yards on a whopping 26 rushing attempts (3.07 per carry), and added just 32 yards on 6 targets in the receiving game. Bell has had plenty of time to knock off the rust and there really is no excuse for a below average outing against a bad defense like the Colts.
Brown wasn't awful in this game, but he wasn't good either. He was held in check for nearly the entire game. Before the last drive, he had just 2 catches for 15 yards on 6 targets. A nice 32-yard catch and run with time winding down salvaged his statistics somewhat. However, he had missed opportunities to field the ball on punt returns and a drop on a deep ball down the sideline.
I didn't think I would see another game with the "big three" all on the losers list, but here we are. Statistically, Roethlisberger didn't have the worst game - he threw for 236 yards with 2 TD and 1 INT. However, he completed just 61 percent of his passes (19 of 31), and his offense put up just 9 points through the first three quarters (3 in the first half).
Ben was much better late in the 4th quarter and needed a perfect last drive to get the job done. However, it never should have come to that point in the first place. Sloppy offensive play often comes back to the quarterback, and Roethlisberger deserves a good portion of the blame for almost dropping another game against a bad opponent on the road.
Artie got Burnt deep in this game - on a 60-yard touchdown catch to Donte Moncrief, to be exact. He bit on a double move to give the Colts a lead early. I don't mind him trying to make plays, but he got himself way out of position and it almost cost the Steelers big time. Pittsburgh also gave up another 61-yard touchdown on the opposite side of the field in this one.
This wasn't Ramon Foster's best performance. On several occasions, Foster could be seen getting manhandled at the line of scrimmage. He gave up a sack in this game, and didn't do much in terms of run blocking, from what I noticed.