Pittsburgh Steelers: Indianapolis Comes to Town


Nov 29, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones (3) sit on the bench between plays against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

As the Indianapolis Colts come to Heinz Field for a Sunday night matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, no one can forget last season’s game in Indianapolis won by the Steelers 51-34.

In that game, Ben Roethlisberger threw six touchdown passes with 522 yards passing.

It was a monster day for Big Ben who hit on 40 of 49 passes. With this game in the ‘Burgh, how Roethlisberger follows up last year’s performance will be the hot topic come Sunday. Big Ben had a healthy 2014 but this year he has been injured several times. Now coming off a concussion, Roethlisberger has declared himself ready to go.

It is not known if Andrew Luck will play for the Colts, still sidelined after suffering a lacerated kidney in week nine. With Luck and Matt Hasselbeck manning the offense, the Colts find themselves ranked 22nd overall in the NFL in total offense. The Steelers on the other hand are fourth trailing only the Cardinals, Patriots, and Saints.

Defensively, both teams have not fared well this season. The Steelers rank 23rd best heading into Sunday whereas the Colts are 26th. Stats don’t tell the whole story however, as Pittsburgh’s defense has only faltered when the secondary has not played well.

When the Colts have the ball: Matt Hasselbeck has filled in nicely for Andrew Luck with a quarterback rating that is higher than the Colts’ normal starter (94.4 to 74.9). The 40-year old veteran has his team in a three-game winning streak and on the season has a seven to two touchdown to interception ratio.

On the ground, Frank Gore is the leading ball carrier, and Ahmad Bradshaw was chipping in until incredibly, he suffered his third consecutive season ending injury in the last three seasons. First it was a neck injury two years ago, then last year a broken leg. Last weekend it was his wrist that gave way requiring surgery.

Gore, in his 11th season, is hardly having a banner year. 657 yards rushing with just a 3.6 yards-per-carry mark. The wear and tear on his body has obviously taken its toll if you listen to Head Coach Chuck Pagano:  “He’s beat to crap, but he’s a warrior. He finds a way to get himself right by Sunday.”

In the air, the Colts have some weapons. T.Y. Hilton is always dangerous and Hasselbeck has Donte Moncrief as his leading receiver with 584 yards and five scores. Lest not forget about Andre Johnson now playing in Indianapolis.

Matt Hasselbeck has been sacked eight times since taking over for the bald luck Luck. So, the Steelers defense should be expected to bring the pressure and challenge Hasselbeck to beat them with his arm as they will continually hassle him. But Pittsburgh’s secondary has been suspect all season so they will need to improve to avoid a shootout like last season’s game.

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When the Steelers have the ball: Can Big Ben do it again? In back-to-back games Roethlisberger threw six touchdown passes Last season and it began in Indianapolis. Rest assured, the Steelers quarterback will remember that performance come Sunday.

The Indianapolis Colts are 24th against the run defensively in the NFL yielding just over 115 yards per game. This could bode well for DeAngelo Williams. In the air, Indy is even more giving, ranked 27th in the league while allowing opposing QBs to throw for almost 273 yards each game.

Expect this…over 40 passes for Roethlisberger. Antonio Brown after a not so Brown-like game last Sunday will be licking his chops for a big performance. Now that Markus Wheaton has found his game again, and Martavis Bryant will be anxious to prove he can catch any ball thrown his way, with good blocking, this game a could get really ugly for the Colts’ defense.

Intangibles: On paper and regarding team stats, this game appears to be a a possible high scoring affair for the Black and Gold. If they eliminate any mistakes and execute well, it is going to be a long day for the Colts. Sure they beat Denver a few weeks back handing the Broncs their first loss of the season, but Denver’s offense is not what Indy will see on Sunday. There could be massive fireworks for Pittsburgh in front of their fans at Heinz Field.

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Prediction: Pittsburgh’s offense is in high gear despite losing the shootout last weekend. But eliminate the interceptions last Sunday in Seattle as well as a few dropped passes and not only would that have a been a victory, it would have been a blowout by Pittsburgh. They should pick up where they left off on the west coast and the defense should tighten up a bit against a more inept offense. Steelers 41 Colts 17.