Week 16 Recap: Indianapolis Colts vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 16 Recap: Indianapolis Colts vs Pittsburgh Steelers

by December 28, 2020 2 comments

Aiming to end their three-game losing skid after beginning the season 11-0, the Pittsburgh Steelers played host to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday afternoon. Pittsburgh was outgained 206-93 by the visiting Colts in the first half as Ben Roethlisberger and company struggled on offense. They headed to the locker room down 21-7. Catching fire in the game’s final 30 minutes, the veteran quarterback would find receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson for passing scores along with tight end Eric Ebron to take a 28-24 lead. The Steelers were able to stave off a late game-winning drive by Philip Rivers and the Indianapolis offense. Pittsburgh captured its 24th AFC North title, the highest total by any franchise in the NFL.

Why the Indianapolis Colts Lost   

Dominant on offense during the first half of this one, the Colts established the run with rookie Jonathan Taylor on early downs as the former Wisconsin Badger found the end zone twice in the games opening 30 minutes. However, once the second half began, the Steelers began to chip away at the deficit. Indianapolis got away from running the ball on early downs and began to throw it with Rivers. Backed up with many long third-down situations late in the game, the team’s offensive line was also unable to hold up in pass protection without tackles Braden Smith and Anthony Castonzo. Pittsburgh racked up five sacks, including two from the defensive player of the year front runner T.J. Watt.

Indy spent a large chunk of the season as one of the elite defensive units in football. Lately, the Colts began to rely on forcing turnovers in a key moment of the game to overcome their issues on that side of the ball. Unable to take the ball away from Pittsburgh in the second half on Sunday, Indianapolis allowed two long scoring drives in the fourth quarter. Roethlisberger found Ebron and Smith-Schuster to cut into and ultimately give the Steelers the lead. In addition to this, Matt Eberflus’s group was also flagged for three killer penalties in the secondary, including two pass interference calls on Kenny Moore and T.J. Carrie. Susceptible to the big play as they struggled to generate a pass rush late, Mike Tomlin’s group was able to erase a 17 point deficit in less than 11 minutes.

Why the Pittsburgh Steelers Won

Stepping up on defense after being dominated by the Colts early on, the Steelers defensive unit set up their first touchdown of the game after a Watt strip-sack of Rivers gave his team the ball inside their opponent’s ten-yard line. Carrying that over into the second half, the group began to string together a series of stops as they began to mount a comeback. Led by Watt and cornerback Mike Hilton, Pittsburgh held Indianapolis to just 28 yards on their opening three drives of the second half, including an interception of the veteran quarterback to stymie their bid to extend the lead.

Finally gaining momentum on offense after a lifeless last month of the season, Pittsburgh’s passing attack was able to move the ball up and down the field with ease in the game’s final 30 minutes. Led by Roethlisberger, the team racked up 242 yards through the air. The veteran quarterback finished the half with just six incompletions and three passing scores. After being scrutinized over the Steelers’ three-game losing skid due to dropped passes and their inability to make plays, the wide receiving core of Pittsburgh also stepped up big time. Smith-Schuster’s nine catches for 96 receiving yards led the way, with Johnson starting the comeback bid after a long touchdown reception at 3:16 of the third quarter.

Highlights

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What’s Next

After locking up the AFC North crown, the Steelers will travel to Cleveland to battle the Browns in week 17. Out for revenge after being embarrassed by their divisional rival back in week 6, Cleveland has yet to lock up a playoff spot after losing to the Jets on Sunday, making this one of the most intriguing games of the week 17 slate. Trying to lock down their place in the playoffs, the Colts return home to battle the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 17. Losers of 14 straight games after beginning the season with a victory over Indianapolis, the Jaguars lost 41-17 to the Chicago Bears on Sunday, clinching them the number one pick in next year’s draft.

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