Steelers Hold off Colts 24-17

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​​​INDIANAPOLIS, IN—Fresh off a disappointing loss to AFC North rival Cincinnati, the Pittsburgh Steelers were hoping that a trip to Indianapolis to face the Colts on Monday Night would be a cure to their struggles. After all, the Colts are also a team that has struggled this season, despite having one of the best running backs in the NFL (Jonathan Stewart) and arguably a future Hall of Fame QB in Matt Ryan.

When the smoked cleared at Lucas Oil Stadium, it was the Steelers who were left standing with a 24-17 victory to improve their record to 4-7. The Colts fell to 4-7-1.

“Man, I’m just appreciative of having an opportunity to compete on Monday Night Football,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. All of us grew up on it and it’s just a part of the fabric of our society, and it’s an honor to participate in it and win. I’m appreciative of the efforts of the guys.

Rookie QB Kenny Pickett (20/28, 174 yards) led the Steelers on four scoring drives, 2 that resulted in TDs, including the game-winning drive early in the 4th quarter when RB Benny Snell scored on a 2-yard run. Snell was pressed into service when starting RB Najee Harris left the game due to injury. With backup RB Jaylen Warren also out with injury, Anthony McFarland Jr. also suited up to play. Snell led the Steelers with 62 yards, and McFarland had 30. Before he left the game, Harris scored the Steelers first TD and finished with 35 yards. Pickett also added 32 as the Steelers rushed for 172 yards as a team.

“You guys ask me that every week. He’s getting better every week and it’s in a very natural way, because of experience,” Tomlin said about his quarterback. He’s a competitor. He’s smart. Still a lot of meat on the bone and it’s just a process. But like I always say, he’s good enough and we’re good enough to win while that happens. So, we’re not grading him or us on a curve. We acknowledge that he’s very much in development. You can ask me next week and I’ll tell you he got better in all areas again next week, because with each snap becomes exposure, and the sharp guys, guys that are competitors, they grow from those things.”

K Matthew Wright also added 3 FG for the Steelers.

Regarding Snell and McFarland, Tomlin said “I’m just appreciative of both guy’s efforts. Sometimes you get battlefield promoted. Guy like Benny Snell became a central part of what we were doing offensively, and he was still on punt team, he was still on punt return, he was still on kickoff. AntMac (Anthony McFarland Jr.) is a guy that’s always waiting and working for his opportunity. He did some things that we saw in team development in the pre-season that make him a little bit different than some of the other backs, things he’s able to do in space, the screen game, draw game. I just thought he was an asset to us.”

After the Steelers blocked a 59-yard FG attempts by the Colts’ Chase McLaughlin, the Steelers went into the locker room with a 16-3 lead. But when the Colts came out of the locker room, they caught fire after KR Dallis Flowers returned the opening kick for 89 yards and a 2-yard TD run by Taylor. The Steelers offense then did nothing on their next drive, and back came the Colts as they benefitted from 2 pass interference calls on the Steelers, but QB Matt Ryan’s handoff to Taylor inside the Steelers 5-yard line was fumbled and recovered by DE Chris Wormley.

But after another 3-and-out by the Steelers offense, the Colts would take their first lead of the game when Ryan (22/34, 199TD, INT) would find WR Michael Pittman for a 6-yard TD. It looked like all hope was gone for the Steelers.

But the reports of the Steelers demise were greatly exaggerated as Pickett led the on a 11 play, 75-yard drive that ended with Snell’s 2-yard TD along with a spectacular s-point conversion from Pickett to rookie WR George Pickens to extend their lead to 24-17.

“Just the natural ebb and flow of football. They got momentum with that kickoff, was able to put that ball in the end zone, and so, you got to turn that tide,” said Tomlin. That’s professional football. That’s just part of it. It doesn’t happen in an instant.”

But the Steelers defense would prove to be huge on the Colts’ final drive as they overcame a 4th down conversion to prevent another as Ryan’s final pass fell incomplete, preserving the Steelers’ victory.

The Steelers will now hope to win 2 games in a row for the first time this season when they travel to Atlanta to face the 5-7 Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

I’m appreciative of the efforts of the guys. We got a lot to work on, but we were good enough tonight to secure the victory, and for that we’re thankful. Got a short week. Got another road trip waiting on us, so we got to sleep fast and do those things,” commented Tomlin.

Notes: Steelers LB Alex Highsmith recorded his career-high 10th sack of the season when he got to Ryan late in the 4thquarter. S Terrell Edmunds also recorded a sack, and CB James Pierre intercepted Ryan in the first quarter.

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