Pittsburgh Steelers: The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Week 3's Win Over Colts
The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to pull off the 23-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts Sunday night, but it wasn’t without a fight that few expected.
Three turnovers, forced by a relentless pass rush, led to all of the Colts’ points in the contest.
In a game that heavily favored the Steelers coming in, the Peyton Manning-less Colts played one of the toughest defensive games in recent memory.
With a pass rush that wouldn’t go away, Dwight Freeney, and Robert Mathis terrorized Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offensive line all night long, leading to one of the ugliest wins you could ask for.
There’s a fine lined mixture that goes into an ugly win. For all of the ugly and overcoming of mistakes, there has to be the addition of great play to make the whole thing stick together.
The Pittsburgh Steelers put their foot in this one, as they mixed up a batch of “Good, Bad, and Ugly” for week three of the NFL season.
The Good – Mike Wallace
How much more can be said about Mike Wallace?
Teams around the league are getting to know what fans in Pittsburgh have known for the last two years –No. 17 is for real.
And yes, it is possible to be that fast.
Wallace came out and quickly amassed 129 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown catch, in the first quarter against Indianapolis.
Wallace finished the game with 144 yards and a touchdown.
The Good – Troy Polamalu
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For the first time since ¾ of the way through the 2010 season, Troy Polamalu had a game changing impact.
Polamalu was seen in the Colts’ backfield as often as Joseph Addia Sunday night.
His impact was far greater than a stat line of three tackles, two pass deflections, two quarterback hits, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown, would lead you to believe.
The Good – James Harrison
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The concerns over James Harrison’s back may be coming to an end. Harrison, like Polamalu, looked like the defensive player of the year everyone has grown accustomed to seeing.
Harrison lead the Steelers with seven tackles, two for a loss, one sack, an additional quarterback hit, and the sack fumble that lead to Polamalu’s touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Bad – Bruce Arians
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The Colts, who were suppose to be somewhere close to awful offensively, put on a clinic for Bruce Arians and the Steelers offense as to how a wide receiver screen is suppose to be run effectively.
Granted Arians and the Steelers were down to their last resorts on the offensive line, but they certainly weren’t in such a mess early on.
The philosophy of “a short pass being as good as a run” simply isn’t cutting it when the short pass goes for a yard or less over 90 percent of the time.
The Steelers have definite issues to consider from an injury standpoint, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that injuries are the only issue the Steelers have offensively. Bruce Arians is going to have to find a way to diversify the Steelers offense, and become far less predictable if they are going to survive the offensive line issues moving forward.
The Ugly – Steelers Offensive Line
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10 yards rushing in the first half, two sack fumbles, and a quarterback that spends more time looking over his shoulder than down the field, are all signs of an offensive line that is miserably underperforming.
Over the course of the last four years, the Steelers have seen a vertiginous merry-go-round along the offensive line. One lineman seems to stager off and another meager replacement hops on until he can no longer hang on.
The Steelers came into Sunday night with seven offensive linemen dressed for play, and by game’s end they were down to four healthy ones. Doug Legursky (shoulder), Marcus Gilbert (shoulder), and Jonathan Scott (ankle) left the game for extended lengths of time. The rookie Gilbert had to return to the game to play left tackle after Scott came up lame in the fourth quarter.
The Steelers continue to fail in the running game. The stat sheets may say 67 yards rushing, but take away one 15-yard run by Rashard Mendenhall, and another 11 scramble by Ben Roethlisberger, and the Steelers rushed for an insufficient 41 yards.
While Roethlisberger’s ability to escape pressure and make plays has saved the team in the past, it is becoming obvious in the turnover margin that he is being forced to do too much.
The Ugly – Jonathan Scott
Injuries in football come in a number of ways.
Some come from a misplaced hit, others from overextending the physical limitations of one’s body, but just as many times a player gets hurt because he is too slow, or shows a serious lack of effort.
Each and every time Jonathan Scott has had to be helped to the sideline since being signed to the Steelers’ roster last season, it has been because of his own poor play.
Scott has committed a penalty in 10 of his last 11 games dating back to 2010, the most by any player in the NFL during that span. Tonight he was responsible for three penalties before being helped off the field in the fourth quarter, one of which took the Steelers out of field goal range in the fourth quarter of a tied ballgame.
Scott’s poor play was directly responsible for one of the sack fumbles recorded by the Colt’s defense Sunday night, and he continues to be one of the weakest links at the most important position on the offensive line.
With all of the additional offensive linemen facing injuries, it’s time for the Steelers to finally look into bringing in a veteran tackle. As always the usual harem of suitors are available, and it is hard for me to believe that any of them would not provide an instant improvement over Scott.
The Wrap Up
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The Steelers’ turnover issues continue to force them into positions where they have to claw their way out, but the blame certainly doesn’t fall solely on Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger certainly holds on to the ball far too long at times, but if he didn’t this Pittsburgh team wouldn’t win a handful of games in 2011.
Both sack fumbles in Sunday night’s game were anything but his fault. There truly should be a stat in the NFL that forces an offensive lineman to share in a turnover when it is a direct result of their poor play. If it were the case Roethlisberger would have been charged with an interception alone in the 23-20 win over the Colts.
The Steelers are headed to Houston next Sunday to take on the Texans. While they may not be the best team in the league, they are certainly better offensively than the Colts were this week. They also pose one of the more serious defensive threats the Steelers will face in the next month. While many expect the Steelers to win this game. The Texans represent one of the teams that could surprise the Steelers and many other teams in the NFL this season.