Steelers Fall Flat vs. Colts 30-13

Steelers RB Jaylen Warren. Credit: Vince Butts/UMT.

 By Ray Porter Jr.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN–Just when you thought it was safe to think all was ok with the Pittsburgh Steelers as they opened with a 13-0 lead vs. the Indianapolis Colts in their Saturday matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium, that QB2 Mitch Trubisky could effectively lead his team to their first victory in 3 weeks after he scored on a 1-yard TD sneak and a 4-yard TD pass to WR Diontae Johnson, the Steelers struggles got the worst of them again, in a 30-13 loss, giving them 3-straight losses and a 7-7 record.

To quote Charles Dickens from A Tale of Two Cities —It was the worst of times.

“All right then, let’s be honest, right? We are a fundamentally poor football group right now,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “We’re playing losing football, and I take responsibility for that. By losing football, I mean we’re just not doing fundamental things well enough. We’re not. We’re turning the ball over, we’re highly penalized, we don’t play good in situations, and so, I’m just acknowledging that. I don’t necessarily have the answers as we sit here today.

For the second week in a row, the Steelers were outmatched, outmuscled, and outplayed by a backup QB. This time, it was veteran Gardner Minshew as he bested the Steelers with his arm by passing for 215 yards and 3 TDs (1 to RB Zack Moss, DJ Montgomery & TE Mo Ali-Cox) and without many mistakes. The running game was also successful, as they rushed for a combined 170 yards in the absence of starter Jonathan Taylor. Backup Trey Sermon ‘preached’ a good message to the Steelers’ defense as he ran through them for 88 yards.

Colts K Matt Gay accounted for the other points with 3 FGs.

“We’re playing poorly. I don’t know about buy-in components and all of that. We’re not playing fundamentally well as I opened up. We’re highly penalized; we turn the ball over,” said Tomlin. “When you’re doing those things, you’re not going to position yourself to win a lot of football games. I don’t know that buy-in is a component of that. We’re not doing fundamental things well enough.”

After the first quarter, the Steelers offense fell flat. Trubisky (16/23, 169 yards) threw two interceptions before getting benched for 3rd String Mason Rudolph (2/3, 3 yards), and the running game did not produce as they finished with a total of 74 rushing yards.

When asked about the running game’s struggles, Tomlin replied, “We just played poorly today. I’m not going to try to explain it or make excuses for it. We didn’t play well today – in really any area, run game or what have you. We didn’t play well enough in any area.”

The Steelers’ defense had its share of disappointing moments as they gave up 30 unanswered points after the Steelers’ 13-0 lead. What has really hurt the defense is the injuries. After losing starting inside LBs Cole Holcomb and Kwon Alexander, earlier in the season, plus Minkah Fitzpatrick to injury and Damone Kazee to disqualification, (along with Keanu Neal to injury weeks ago), the phrase ‘next man up’ hasn’t worked well for the Steelers as the backups haven’t been able to produce the same results.

Tomlin promises changes. “I say we’re going to do things differently. That, I assure you…. But I will acknowledge things won’t continue the way that they are. We’re not going to keep doing the same things that we’re doing and expect or hope for a different result.”

With three games left and their Playoff hopes seriously in doubt, Tomlin and the coaching staff must find a way to address the Steelers’ ills and get them ready to end their slump, beginning with the Cincinnati Bengals Saturday at Acrisure Stadium.

“Man, we got a game next week, and we’re professionals. We’ll work and be prepared. I’m not taking a big-picture approach,” said Tomlin. “I’m just talking about the things that we’re doing that have to change, small picture.”

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