It was just a preseason game, but hot damn did it feel good to sit in the yellow plastic seats at Heinz Field again.
The kid who sang the national anthem in The Dark Knight Rises got to sing at an actual Steelers game too. That was pretty cool. Luckily, no explosions or masked terrorists showed up.
The biggest change at Heinz Field this year was the retirement of Randy Cosgrove, the former PA announcer. It was odd hearing someone else's voice announcing the team, but in recent years Randy had tried to expand his PA announcer role and become somewhat of a cheerleader for the fans. I wasn't a fan of it, so hopefully Larry Richert will keep things by the book. We don't need told to "check the video board" before Renegade comes on. We know what it means when the screen goes black for a few seconds. We don't need led in a "That's a Pittsburgh Steelers....FIRST DOWN" cheer. We're Steelers fans, not Bengals fans. Tell us who made the play, how many yards, what down it is, and maybe some stats.
The Steelers won the toss and took the ball.
We started off with some ground-and-pound with a nice end-around to CCR mixed in there. CCR took a shot to the head but would come back later. Dwyer led us out to midfield but we finally had to throw on 3rd down. On a fairly simple 3-step-drop out-route to Brown, Ben badly underthrows the ball and throws it right to a Colts defender sitting on the route. Yikes.
The defense locked it down on Luck and it was a quick 3-and-out.
Ben came back out with the first No Huddle of the Haley era and converted a 3rd and long to AB down the sideline to get things rolling. It was a beautiful route combination with Sanders going long down the sideline, a back running short to draw the near defender up then Brown running an intermediate out route to split the coverage and move the chains. Three plays later on a 3rd and 4, Ben hits AB on a wide receiver screen with Heath and Pope out in front to plow the way. Brown makes a few moves down the sideline then cuts it back to the middle of the field where he just embarrasses a few Colts defenders and summersaults into the end zone.
Note to Bruce Arians: that's how you run a Wide Receiver screen. You get linemen and tight ends out to block for him, not other wide receivers.
Tomlin comes back and flexes his muscles by throwing the challenge flag on a pass to Collie over the middle. The replacement refs actually know how to watch replays and make the right call overturning the catch. Luck is able to convert one third down, but the defense locks it down and forces a punt.
Chris Rainey returned, but the Steelers went 3-and-out.
Here's another shocker, Bruce Arians goes with the Run-Run-Pass motif offense, which puts the Colts in 3rd and long. Luck tries to throw an out-route to Wayne but Ike jumps it and sails all the way to the house.
Woodley absolutely annihilates a blocker and brings down Luck to start the next drive, but Luck battles back and the Colts start moving the ball as the quarter ends.
With the ball in Steelers territory for the first time in the game, Arians keeps it conservative and goes to the ground, but the Steelers can't tackle Donald Brown and he carries the Colts down to the goal line. After a failed pass and a stuffed run, Brown pounds it in on 3rd down.
Another 3-and-out for the first team offense in their last drive of the game.
Luck comes back out finding his rhythm, and leads the Colts into Steelers territory again. He takes a shot on 3rd down near midfield and has rookie T.Y. Hilton wide open deep across the middle, but Hilton literally craps his pants on the field and forgets how to catch a ball. Cortez Allen is there to clean up the bobble, for the first team D's second interception of the game.
Charlie Batch comes in, but nothing really happens aside from a big run by Jonathan Dwyer.
The Steelers send out their second team defense and they're really no match for the Colts first team offense. Luck picks the reserves apart and carries the Colts all the way down to the goal line. The Colts seem to score on 3rd and goal from the 1, but video review shows that the runner's knee was down before he crossed the goal line. On 4th and goal, Luck runs a zone read and keeps it, seemingly entering his slide before the goal line (which should have made him down right there) but the refs give him the touchdown. It was close either way.
A subpar kick return and a false start penalty put Charlie in a bad situation to run the two minute offense and it doesn't work out so well and we wind up punting back with just under a minute to go.
Luck takes over and goes to town against the second stringers, moving the Colts to the fringe of field goal range and getting off a spike with 1 second left in the half. Adam Vinatieri comes out and booms a 53-yarder, which is his approximate age, to end the half.
Arians goes back to the motif offense and - shocker - it's a 3-and-out. Pat McAfee (Plum High School, WVU) who calls his leg the Boom Stick gets a punt blocked by Mortty Ivy coming off the edge getting a hand out. Boom stick got BOOMED.
It's the Batch show with Baron and Charlie leading the way. Danny Hrapmann makes a field goal
How do we always find back-up kickers with awesome names? It was Piotr Czech last year. Now it's Hrapmann.
In possibly the most surprising drive of the game, Drew Stanton puts together a 9-play, 74-yard drive that puts the Colts back in the lead, capping it off with a touchdown pass on 3rd and goal from the 4.
The teams exchanged 3-and-outs before Homestead Charlie went to work. Things looked dire until we got a free play on an offsides flag and Batch chucked one down the field that David Gilreath came down with. Three plays later, Batch hit Gilreath again to get us into field goal territory. Hrapmann makes it hrappen.
The Colts went 3-and-out again.
Jerrod Johnson comes in for Batch and after a poor performance last week, looks like a completely different player. Things really start to happen when Johnson hits Gilreath over the middle to convert a 3rd and 16 to get the drive rolling. From there, it's smooth sailing down to the edge of the red zone, where 3rd round pick Kelvin Beachum takes a poop - giving up a sack then taking a holding penalty. Hrapmann city.
Chandler Harnish, a rookie from Northern Illinois, comes in and converts a 3rd and 20 to chase pretty much all the rest of the fans from the seats, but it wasn't over yet. After some meaningless runs and another 3rd and long conversion (3rd and 16 this time), Harnish gets picked by Josh Victorian to give the ball back to the offense with a chance to win.
Jerrod Johnson and newly acquired running back Jay Ford make the most of the opportunity, carrying the Steelers down the field into field goal range. Johnson picks up a first down with just over 2 minutes to go with his legs, but Ford can't pound it in to the end zone and the Steelers bring out the kick team with under 30 ticks left.
Three incomplete passes and a throw-around drill wind out the rest of the clock.
It doesn't count, but it feels good.
Players of the Game:
Offensive Game Ball: David Gilreath
Defensive Game Ball: Ike Taylor
- On the whole, same old Bruce Arians offense, just different players executing it.
- Andrew Luck is the real deal. You could see it.
- Not real concerned with the Steelers second team defense getting run over for 10 points by Luck and the Colts. Indy's 1s are better than are 2s. Doesn't say a whole lot.
- David Gilreath certainly represented himself well (as Coach Tomlin would say). After spending last year bouncing around practice squads, it's good to see the guy get a chance to flash what he can do. He's definitely earning himself more playing time.
- Even though it's just the preseason, really dominating performance by the Steelers in the ground game. 36 carries for 146 yards. I'l take that any week.
- Steelers first team defense after 2 weeks: 6 drives, 30 plays, 108 yards, 2 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 touchdown scored, 1 touchdown allowed, 2 3-and-outs. If you think about it, that's about what a defense normally faces in a half of football (usually average 50-60 offensive plays per game). Who wouldn't take that in any half of football?