Feb. 08, 2017
3 Keys to the Steelers-Colts
The Steelers are coming off a 24-9 win over the Cleveland Browns and they will face a quick turnaround on Thanksgiving against the 5-5 Indianapolis Colts. As big as this game is for the Steelers, this is also pivotal for the Colts as they are in a dogfight to get back into the AFC South race. The elephant in the room as of today is that Andrew Luck is in concussion protocol and there is a pretty good chance that the Colts may be forced to have Scott Tolzien make his third NFL start. Obviously this would be a huge dropoff from one of the best quarterbacks in the game and create a much different matchup for the Steelers.
Can the Steelers use the Browns to springboard their pass rush?
The most glaring problem for the Colts lies in the number of sacks they have allowed. As of this point, they have given up 35 sacks which is 2nd to only the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers have really struggled getting the QB to the ground, so it was somewhat surprising when they registered 8 (!) sacks last weekend and continuously harassed Cody Kessler and Josh McCown. The Steelers only have 8 interceptions and have not forced takeways at the rate they did a year ago, so their ability to disrupt the opponent’s passing game will be a major key to their playoff chances.
2) Road concerns… again
I feel like this comes up every time the Steelers play a road game, but it’s impossible to ignore it. Ben has been a completely different quarterback on the road than he has been at home for the last three seasons. Even this past week against Cleveland, he put up extremely pedestrian numbers. This team needs to overcome their road woes and separate themselves from the pack of mediocre football teams.
3) Mike Tomlin’s questionable decision making
Javon Hargrave decided to get his first NFL sack and touchdown on the same play, so there is an area that has become overshadowed in the Steelers win last weekend. With the Steelers not playing well in the red zone and up 6-0 with a chance to go up two possessions going into the half, Ben Roethlisberger held onto the ball too long with only 5 seconds to go and the Browns forced an incompletion to seemingly end the half. Fortunately, the Browns were called for defensive holding and the Steelers were bailed out. Tomlin decided to go for 6 anyway and the Browns forced another incompletion, but were called for pass interference. Tomlin would get another chance and once again go for it, with Bell taking it into the end zone on the 2nd untimed down. The Browns could have went into the half with a huge burst of momentum in a one possession game. I get that it didn’t happen and many people are going to call this “gutsy” because it worked, but this is one of those calls Tomlin gets to make because of his job security. The Steelers will not fire Tomlin, and there is alot to be said about stability, but this season is going to be very telling for the future. Can this team ever reach expectations? Or be more consistent? Can they win a playoff game that is not handed to them by the Bengals? I personally worry about the future of this team once Ben Roethlisberger rides off into the sunset, but that is conversation for another time. For now, we all get to eat a ton of food and watch two teams that are fighting for their playoff lives duel it out in Indianapolis.