Steelers “Studs and Duds” from Week 16 against the Colts

Steel City Underground’s “Studs and Duds” takes a look at the winners and losers from each of the Pittsburgh Steelers games during the 2020 season. Check with us after every game each week for our list, and to also see who climbed, or fell, down the rankings.

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Mike Hilton

Cornerback Mike Hilton made several “splash plays” that played a huge role in the Steelers’ 28-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts. He recovered a fumble early in the 2nd quarter and returned it to the Colts’ 3-yard line. Pittsburgh quickly turned the short field position into a touchdown after struggling on offense for the rest of the first half.

Hilton also made a few open field tackles for short gains and came down with a crucial interception late in the 2nd half that ended a potential scoring drive for the Colts and gave the Steelers a much-needed spark.

Ben Roethlisberger

Anyone who turned the game off at halftime would be shocked to see “Big Ben” here. He played horribly in the first half, missing on far too many throws and making too many poor decisions. However, Roethlisberger carried the Steelers to their largest 2nd half comeback since Mike Tomlin took over as head coach for the team.

Roethlisberger threw touchdown passes on 3 consecutive drives in the 2nd half to take the lead and would have thrown 4 if Chase Claypool had caught a well-thrown ball on the 1-yard line on the first drive of the 3rd quarter. It was an up and down performance from “Big Ben” but he ultimately propelled the Steelers to their first AFC North division title since 2017.

T.J. Watt

T.J. Watt continues to build his resume for a potential Defensive Player of the Year award. He came into the game leading the league in sacks and came away with 2 more in this game, as well as a tackle for loss.

Watt made an impressive play early in the 2nd quarter to force a fumble on Colts’ quarterback Phillip Rivers that Mike Hilton recovered. He also nearly came down with an interception as well.

Juju Smith-Schuster

It had been a while since wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster had a big game, so his performance against the Colts was refreshing. Like the rest of the Steelers’ offense, Smith-Schuster did not do much in the first half, but he finished the game with 9 receptions for 96 yards and caught the final touchdown that gave the Steelers the lead in the 4th quarter.

Stephon Tuitt

It was not the most dominant performance you will see from defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt, but he made enough plays against the Colts that he deserves recognition. The Colts drove the ball deep into Steelers’ territory on their first possession of the second half, but Tuitt sacked Phillip Rivers on 3rd down, forcing them to kick a field goal instead of scoring a demoralizing touchdown that would have given the Colts a 21 point lead. Tuitt also tipped a pass that nearly resulted in an interception.

Diontae Johnson

Wide receiver Diontae Johnson gets more of an honorable mention here rather than a stud performance. He dropped 2 more passes in the 1st half to add to his league-leading total and was not on the same page with Roethlisberger on several occasions. But he played an impressive 2nd half and made the biggest play of the game on offense for the Steelers, hauling in a 39-yard touchdown pass from “Big Ben.”

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Alejandro Villanueva

Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva struggled again for the Steelers after having arguably his worst performance of the season the week prior against the Bengals. Villanueva failed to get any push up front in the running game and allowed the Colts’ edge rushers to make too many plays.

Steven Nelson

Cornerback Steven Nelson did not play well in coverage against the Colts. Nelson was burned by Colts’ receivers several times, especially by T.Y. Hilton, though the Steelers’ play-calling on defense put him in disadvantageous situations at times. He did make an impressive play on the ball to come down with an interception, but he committed pass interference on the play and ultimately gave the Colts a first down.

Chukwuma Okorafor

Like Villanueva, right tackle “Chuks” Okorafor followed up one of his worst performances of the season against the Bengals with another poor performance against the Colts. Okorafor was embarrassed several times by Colts’ edge rushers, whiffing on several blocks. He also looked lost at times, not seeing where the pressure was coming from by the Colts’ defense.

The Steelers will need their offensive tackles to play better going forward if they want to continue winning football games.

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