Steel City Underground presents our 2017 Recall: a brief look back at Pittsburgh Steelers games from last season.
In a close game that would become something of a flag fest, the Pittsburgh Steelers got the ball first after the Indianapolis Colts won the coin toss and deferred. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger pulled the deep-ball trigger early, aiming for Martavis Bryant, but Bryant did not zero in on the ball and the Colts came away with an interception.
It would be the beginning of a mistake-riddled slow start for the Steelers.
Both offenses tried to establish the run early with little success. Le'Veon Bell's nemesis was Jabaal Sheard while Frank Gore got handled by Cameron Heyward and committee. As the Steelers looked to utilize the run in order to open the playbook, Roethlisberger was dropped when the Colts rushed five players and then Pittsburgh was flagged three times in a row for holding.
The Colts opened the second quarter with a bomb of a throw from Jacoby Brissett to Donte Moncrief wide open along the left sideline as Artie Burns turned to look at the quarterback and blew the coverage. That play was set up by a couple missed tackles, including two by usually solid Ryan Shazier.
Trying to create some spark, the Steelers ran an end-around with Bryant that was a big loss of yardage and resulted in Roethlisberger getting hit hard, but he was able to then find Bryant for short-yardage and set up a Chris Boswell field goal to end the first half: Colts 10- Steelers 3.
The Colts offense got the ball to open the second half of the game and Brissett burned the coverage on the right side of the field as Mike Mitchell sank towards Burns and T.Y. Hilton. The result was another long, wide-open pass-and-catch for a touchdown.
When Pittsburgh's offense returned to the field, one thing that was noted was the lack of underneath throw attempts while the Colts defense continued to play 'cover 2' - an area where better tight end play would help this team. Roethlisberger would find JuJu Smith-Schuster for a great play that saw the rookie receiver fight for the ball and secure it. Targeting Smith-Schuster again in near the end zone, Eli Rogers was called for holding, moving the Steelers back. After Antonio Brown earned a flag by getting held downfield by the Colts defenders, Roethlisberger connected with Smith-Schuster again for a touchdown.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 12, 2017
Unfortunately, the point-after was no good as the Colts blocked it and were able to return it nearly the length of the field before tight end Jesse James made the tackle.
Stephon Tuitt got the defense heated up as he dropped Brissett. It would have been a sack had William Gay not been called for holding away from the ball. In a controversial call, Vince Williams grabbed a loose ball from a Colts receiver, but the officials ruled forward progress and negated an opportunity for Mike Tomlin to challenge the play.
That seemed to fire up the Steelers defense as they once again pressured and hit Brissett and forced him to try to pass short to his tight end; the ball tipped as Shazier was making the tackle and into the Steelers linebacker's hands for an interception.
The turnover led to a jump-ball catch as Vance McDonald ran a drag route and was alone in the right corner of the end zone and the Steelers converted the two-point play when Bryant made a nice catch to tie the game at 17 points apiece.
Williams and Tuitt dialed up heavy pressure with Heyward and forced Indy off the field. Flipping things over to the offense, Roethlisberger tried to capitalize with a nice run play call to James Conner but the red zone offensive woes continued and Boswell missed the field goal; he hit the right upright and the ball bounced away.
After stout play from the Steelers defense, they once again gave the ball back to Roethlisberger and the offense. Brown made a nice catch and Bell continued to gain yardage to set up Boswell for the game-winning field goal as time literally ran down to the last seconds of regulation time.
Boswell lined up on the right hash and nailed the field goal to put the Steelers ahead, 20-17, and hand the Colts another loss, moving to 7-2 on the season.
What Stood Out
Remember this photo?
The Steelers defense posed for a "team photo" following a turnover against the Colts. It would start to become a "thing" after JuJu Smith-Schuster began his own crazy celebrations. (Which included chaining up a training bike on the sideline against the Lions two weeks earlier, which played off his real bike being stolen!)
Good Ben, Bad Ben
Roethlisberger’s final stat line wasn't that bad:
19/31 for 236 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, Passer Rating of 92.9
But that doesn’t tell the tale. Because this was his stat line at the half!
7/15 for 72 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, Passer Rating of 33.2
Everything about Ben Roethlisberger wasn't bad in this game. The Steelers quarterback had a passer rating of 118.8 when targeting JuJu Smith-Schuster...
Big Ben Godsend
And after trailing 17-9 at the start of the fourth quarter, Roethlisberger notched his 40th career fourth quarter comeback.
Back on track
Following a slow start to the season, Le'Veon Bell eclipsed 1,000 yards from scrimmage. It would mark his 4th NFL season with at least 1,000 yards.
After allowing a 61-yard touchdown pass, the Steelers defense allowed only 19 yards to the Colts offense in the 2nd half.
Play of the Game
Entering this game, most fans felt the Steelers, who were fresh off of a bye week, would destroy the 3-6 Colts.
With 13 minutes left in the game, the Steelers struggled to do much of anything against the Colts. Their mistakes allowed the Colts to have a 17-9 lead in the fourth quarter, leaving Pittsburgh in desperate need of a big play... and they would get one from one of the best playmakers: Ryan Shazier.
Shazier, who was leading the Steelers in interceptions at this point in the season, makes this juggling catch that should've never been in his hands to begin with!
Somehow Ryan keeps his eyes on the ball all the way through following the active play, making a dynamic catch, which overturned the Steelers fortunes.
The interception instantly set the Steelers up for a touchdown and game-tying two-point conversion, en route to winning the game 20-17.