The Colts played their best game of the 2011 season Sunday night at home against the Steelers – and it still wasn’t enough to get in the win column.
Indianapolis is now 0-3 after they fell 23-20 to a Steelers team that after a first quarter that looked like it would be a blowout. The Colts were down 10-0, and they couldn’t match the Steelers speed nor intensity.
Then, just as fast as a game could turn around – it did. Mostly thanks to the superb play on the D-line by Dwight Freeney, who made it a very long night for Steelers linemen Jonathan Scott.
Freeney forced a fumble that Jammal Anderson returned for a score to tie the game at 10, and then after a Ben Roethlisberger interception, they took a 13-10 lead at the half.
But then, after the Steelers tied the game, with 5:13 left backup QB Curtis Painter was stripped by James Harrison and Troy Polamalu scooped it up and went 16 yards for a score that made it 20-13.
Painter though, wouldn’t be denied, as he methodically took the Colts 80 yards, getting the most meaningful offensive TD of the season when RB Joseph Addai shook off the blitzing Polamalu and powered in from 6 yards to tie the score with 2:09 left.
The Steelers offense finally got a drive together though, as Roethlisberger set up Shaun Suisham for a 38-yard field goal with 4 seconds left to give Pittsburgh the three-point win.
The Colts D forced three Roethlisberger turnovers during an 11-minute span in the first half, and they held the Steelers to only 67 yards rushing and the vaunted Steelers defense produced only one sack — the one Polamalu scored on.
“Getting those turnovers is key,” coach Jim Caldwell said at halftime. “Now we’ve got to do a little bit more with the offense. We got field goals in a couple of situations where we needed touchdowns.”
The final Steelers drive was led by Roethlisberger, who took the Steelers on a 60-yard scoring march that ended with Suisham’s kick. The two-time Super Bowl QB was 25 of 37 for 364 yards with one touchdown. Mike Wallace caught five passes for 144 yards and an 81-yard score, the longest of his career.
Addai had a solid game for the Colts, going for 86 yards and scored on the 6-yard run that tied it at 20.
In the end though, the team just couldn’t get enough from Kerry Collins or Painter, and they just couldn’t make enough big plays. It’s a broken record that has been played for two weeks before, and right now, the turntable looks like it’s heading for another round.