In the now famous dress-rehearsal, the Steelers took on but ultimately succumbed to the Colts at Heinz Field in their third preseason game Saturday night.
- Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger saw his first preseason action against Indianapolis, as did receiver Antonio Brown, and they were joined by the entire starting offensive line.
Pittsburgh took the opening kickoff and moved effortlessly down the field on the legs of running back Knile Davis, who had runs of 11 and 10 yards on the drive, along with a nine-yard gain on a short pass from Roethlisberger.
However, on first and 10 from the 33, left tackle Alejandro Villanueva was badly beaten on the outside by linebacker John Simon, who hit Ben Roethlisberger and forced a fumble that defensive end Hassan Ridgeway recovered at the 33.
- The Colts then proceeded to march 63 yards on just four plays and went ahead 7-0 on a one-yard run by veteran back Frank Gore.
Pittsburgh answered with an 11-play, 57-yard drive that culminated in a 36-yard field goal by kicker Chris Boswell to pull the Steelers to within four points.
Two series would be it for the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, who completed six of nine passes for 73 yards, and Antonio Brown, who pulled in two passes for 28 yards.
The Colts again moved the ball down the field in a fairly effortless fashion, but after reaching the 27 yard line, a short pass from quarterback Scott Tolzien was picked off by inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, who returned it 12 yards to the Steelers’ 20.
With Landry Jones now in for Roethlisberger, the Steelers notched another field goal in the second quarter, while the Colts added two of their own, and the visitors went into the locker room with a 13-6 halftime lead.
On the Steelers first possession of the second half, Jones, seeing his first preseason action after missing the first two games with an oblique injury, led the Steelers on an eight-play scoring drive that ended when he found tight end Xavier Grimble in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass.
- Unfortunately, Chris Boswell’s extra point was no-good, and the Steelers still trailed by one point.
The Steelers finally went ahead on their following drive, thanks to Boswell’s third field goal of the night, this time from 37 yards out, but the Colts quickly answered by marching 86 yards on 14 plays and scored on a Josh Ferguson one-yard plunge to make it 19-15 (Adam Vinatieri‘s extra point was no good).
The Steelers appeared poised to regain the lead late in the fourth quarter, after pass interference was called on Colts cornerback Chris Culliver, who was trying to cover rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
- Since the foul occurred in the end zone, Pittsburgh had it first and goal with 4:36 remaining.
However, one play later, Landry Jones’ pass intended for Smith-Schuster was intercepted in the end zone by Chris Milton, and the Colts held on for a 19-15 victory.
- It was a nice enough debut for Landry Jones, who completed 21 of 31 passes for 163 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Running back Terrell Watson led the way with 40 yards rushing on eight carries, while James Conner and Davis added 26 and 21 yards, respectively.
- Eli Rogers perhaps cemented his role as the slot receiver catching five passes for 58 yards.
It wasn’t a great night for the Steelers defense which failed to generate much of a pass rush (just one sack split by James Harrison and Vince Williams) and yielded 257 yards through the air. The Steelers shook up their secondary in the week leading up to the game, but neither Coty Sensabaugh nor Ross Cockrell stepped up to distinguish themselves.
- On the flip side, Steelers 3rd round pick Cam Sutton did look good in his first preseason action.
Next up for the Steelers is their annual preseason finale against the Panthers this Thursday night at Carolina.