Well, it was another hold-your-breath game in Pittsburgh when the Colts came to town today. The Steelers needed, once again, for the defense to give quarterback Mason Rudolph some room for error... and did they ever! The defense recorded 5 sacks, an interception, 2 fumble recoveries, a blocked kicked and a 96-yard interception returned for a touchdown by Minkah Fitzpatrick. This tied the game 10-10.
I think everyone will now agree that our newest safety is worth the 2020 first-round pick the Steelers gave up.
Now, in saying that, the Pittsburgh coaching staff need to have a sit down after some of the questionable play calling.
The offense had it's struggles today -with an interception to start the first quarter from Rudolph - however, the Steelers were sill able to hold on to a slim 20-16 lead, thanks to Bud Dupree having the game (and season) of his life in the NFL with a couple of sacks, including a strip-sack-recovery that allowed the offense to get on the field to gain 54 yards in 11 plays, ending in a Vance McDonald touchdown.
Late in the game, Rudolph was guilty of holding on the ball too long and was sacked in the end zone, forcing a fumble which Alejandro Villanueva recovered for a safety for the Colts.
The lead then began narrowing for the Steelers. Jaylen Samuels, who had been doing a respectable job at running back for the injured James Connor, fumbled after a reception and Colts defensive back Justin Houston recovered. Nothing was going the Steelers way at that point in the game.
Many Yinzers out there are likely trying to figure out why, when the Steelers were ahead by five points in the game, offensive coordinator Randy Fichner called the same running play three times in a row. The result: only 1:15 ticked off the game clock and gave the ball, and potentially the game, back to the Colts with over two minutes left to go.
There was no attempt to throw the ball, to try and get a first down or two and close out the game. That kind of conservative play calling has never won games. When you play to "not lose" instead of playing to win, you leave your fate in the hands of the opposing team... which is exactly what happened today.
Also, challenging two pass interference calls when it is clear that the league has decided that, unless it is egregious, they are not overturning these call is like giving away time outs. To do it in the last three minutes of the game is insane. Tomlin knows how important those timeouts are with only a slim point margin; it just made no sense.
The Colts got the ball back and marched down the field. With a little over a minute left, veteran kicker Adam Vinateri missed a 43-yard field goal wide right to give the Steelers the win. Yes, give the Steelers the win.
Now you can exhale.
Pittsburgh is now back to .500 football at 4-4 after a 26-24 win over Indianapolis.
I will say that if this is how the coaching staff plans to win the next game over a young-minded coach like Rams HC Sean McVay, they have another thing coming.
The players are now doing their job and this win was a complete team effort. Now the coaching staff needs to get their stuff together so that the Steelers are playing to win next week.