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Inside the Steelers: Steelers vs Colts Preview

Ever been in a dream where you can’t escape a monster and no matter what you do he catches you? It’s a hopeless feeling, and normally, just as the monster gets you, you suddenly jolt awake. The same scenario could be applied to last week’s Steelers-Texans game, in which Pittsburgh looked about as bad as an NFL team could look. For the first 26 minutes of this contest, Houston was in complete control of the game, beating the Steelers in every facet of the game as they lead 13-0. The players looked stunned on the Steelers sideline. Social Media was ablaze with bridge jumpers from Western Pennsylvania. 13-0 might as well been 84-0. The monster, it seemed, had caught up with the Steelers here in the 2014 NFL Season.

Season over, right?

Not quite.

Like awakening from a nightmare, the Steelers sprung to life, driving down the field and kicking a Shawn Suisham field goal with 3:08 left in the 2nd quarter.

13-3 game.

It looked as if the Steelers had a little life before heading into the half. But as Lee Corso always says, “Not so fast my friend!”

The Steelers forced a punt, and were looking for more before the half ended. And more they got. Martavis Bryant, the Steelers 4th round pick out of Clemson, finally was granted the honor of seeing the field for the first time all season, and found himself on the receiving end of a 35-yard touchdown strike from Ben Roethlisberger.

13-10 Houston with 1:27 left in the 2nd quarter.

Surely the Texans would take a knee and head to the half, right? Unfortunately for them, the answer was no. Arian Foster, who hadn’t fumbled since the Carter Administration, put the ball on the carpet and suddenly, the Steelers had the ball inside the five yard line. The Steelers then went unconventional to make their next play, as Roethlisberger flipped the ball to Antonio Brown, who was coming in motion. The Pro Bowl wide receiver then spun back around to his left and fired a strike to Lance Moore in the end zone.

17-13 Pittsburgh with 1:03 left in the 2nd quarter.

The Texans once again received the kickoff. Surely the Texans would take a knee and head to the half this time, right?

Not quite. A pass by Ryan Fitzpatrick that was deflected twice, ended up in the hands of Brett Keisel for an interception. Steelers ball again!

With 14 seconds left in the half, Roethlisberger zipped the ball to Le’Veon Bell by the pylon, and just like that, it was 24-13 Steelers.

2 minutes and 54 seconds saw a 13-0 deficit turn into a 24-13 advantage for Pittsburgh.

In the second half, the Steelers added two more field goals as they held on to defeat the Texans 30-23.

It’s the lack of offense, with the exception of that 2:54 second window, that concerns me about the Steelers heading into their game against the Indianapolis Colts, though, it should be mentioned, that it should have been a field goal and a touchdown by the Steelers in the 2nd half, if the referees hadn’t robbed Antonio Brown of a touchdown catch.

To me, there was absolutely no way there was “Indisputable Evidence” to overturn the call.

Anyways, Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley continues to shackle Ben Roethlisberger and the offense. Why management wants to contain Roethlisberger’s talents is a complete mystery to me. Does anyone see the Colts holding back Andrew Luck?

For the season, Roethlisberger has completed just eight passes across the middle. Eight! The majority of the passes are either bubble screens or over the top sideline passes in which the window to receive the ball is as tight as Pittsburgh Pirates owner Bob Nutting’s pockets.

Simply put, there is no excuse for the offense to be as bad as it’s been. The team has a star quarterback, one of the top receivers in the game in Brown, one of the top, if not thee best, running backs in the NFL in Bell, and a very solid offensive line led by Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey. Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, Justin Brown, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and tight end Heath Miller are all capable pass catchers. Can anyone tell me why the team cannot utilize speed burner Dri Archer, a 3rd round pick mind you, just as the Eagles do with Darren Sproles, or like San Diego had done with Danny Woodhead?

All of those signs point to Todd Haley. True, players have to execute the plays, but it’s up to the coaches to use their players to the best of their abilities, and put them in positions to succeed.

Defensively, the Steelers played much better after the Texans had gashed them for a length of the field opening drive, led by Arian Foster. Foster almost had 100 yards before the end of the 1st quarter, but was held in check the rest of the way, as it took him well into the 4th quarter to cross the century mark.

The defense should get a boost on Sunday as first round pick Ryan Shazier will likely return to action, barring any set backs from today through warm-ups Sunday.

Both CB Ike Taylor and SS Shamarko Thomas will be out of action, as will DT Steve McClendon.

The Colts come into town on a five game winning streak after dropping their first two games of the season. Andrew Luck has been the best quarterback in the league. He leads the NFL with 2,331 yards passing with 19 touchdowns and seven picks. Only Phillip Rivers and Peyton Manning, both of whom played Thursday night, have thrown more TD passes.

His main target is T.Y. Hilton, who has 47 receptions for 711 yards and one score. Reggie Wayne is 2nd on the team in receptions, but he is out of action this week with an injury. Hakeem Nicks will look to pick up the slack in Wayne’s absence. Tight End’s Dwayne Allen (21 receptions, 305 yards, five touchdowns) and Coby Fleener (17 receptions, 214 yards, three touchdowns) have been a dual threat all season, and will likely be again against the Steelers, who have had their problems covering tight ends all year, let alone two of them roaming the field.

Trent Richardson leads the team with 358 yards rushing, but he has taken a backseat to Ahmad Bradshaw, who is having a great season with 336 yards rushing and one TD, to complement his 24 receptions for 212 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

Defensively, the Colts are 4th best in the league, only giving up 19.4 points per game and 3rd in total defense, giving up 311.1 yards per game.

This is a huge game for the Steelers and a monumental chance to gain some real confidence with a victory over one of the better teams in the league. In the past, you wouldn’t think of betting against the Steelers at home, but until I see proof of Todd Haley setting Roethlisberger free, this team is going to remain average at best. The only chance this team has is to try and outscore it’s opponents until the defense starts to jell–if ever. This offense should be capable of doing that, if put into position to do so. The Steelers will give it their all on Sunday, but in the end, it won’t be enough… Colts 30 Steelers 20

 

Game Information

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) vs Indianapolis Colts (5-2)

Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.

Game-time: 4:25 PM

TV: CBS

Weather: Sunny with a high in the mid-60’s.

Vegas Line: Colts (-3.5)

 

Game Notes

* Steelers lead the overall series against the Colts 14-6, including 9-2 at home.

* Steelers are 5-0 against the Colts in the Postseason.

* Last Regular-Season Meeting: Sept. 25, 2011 at Indianapolis, Pittsburgh 23, Indianapolis 20.

* Ben Roethlisberger is slated to make his 150th career start on Sunday and would improve to 100-50 as a starter during the regular season and to 2-2 against Indianapolis with a win.

* Le’Veon Bell needs 50 yards from scrimmage to surpass Barry Foster (1992 – 987) for the most by a Steeler through the first eight games of a season since 1960.

* Antonio Brown with at least five catches and 80 yards on Sunday, will join Michael Irvin (first 9 games in 1995) as the second player in NFL history to open the season with five for 80 in each of the first eight games of a season.

 

Injury Report (10/24/2014)

Pittsburgh Steelers

Out: DT Steve McLendon (shoulder), CB Ivan Taylor (forearm), S Shamarko Thomas (hamstring)

Doubtful: T Marcus Gilbert (concussion)

Questionable:

Probable: DE Brett Keisel (not injury related), S Michael Mitchell (not injury related), S Troy Polamalu (not injury related), LB Ryan Shazier (knee)

 

Indianapolis  Colts

Out: WR Reggie Wayne (elbow)

Doubtful:

Questionable: TE Jack Doyle (knee), RB Trent Richardson (hamstring)

Probable: CB Darius Butler (ankle), DT Arthur Jones (ankle)

 

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Mike DrakulichYour source for Pittsburgh sports!
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.

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