The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to invade Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m. It will be a mighty test for the Colts who are for the first time in a long time, feeling a bit of confidence after last week’s road win in Houston. The Colts will be however without starting DL Henry Anderson, Vontae Davis (released this week), and John Simon on defense. T.Y. Hilton is questionable as well, but practiced on Friday so it looks like he will give it a go.
Pittsburgh comes into the game with the 10th best offense in the league in yards, but only 20th in scoring. They have yet to crack 30 points in a game this season. They are still led by Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, and have a plethora of weapons which makes them capable of exploding against the Colts on Sunday. In the last 3 meetings vs the Colts. Ben is 78-108, for 13 touchdowns, no interceptions, and 1101 yards. That is an astounding stat line vs a single team, and with a young and unproven secondary the Colts have, expect a barrage through the air yet again Sunday.
Antonio Brown, the league leader in receptions and receiving yards is still the staple on the outside. He has big time speed on the outside, and also runs exceptional routes which get him open across the middle of the field. Vs. the Chuck Pagano led Colts defense, the last 3 meetings Antonio Brown has 23 receptions for 342 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Last year alone he had 3 touchdowns matched up on Vontae Davis, and Davis was often left alone in coverage for whatever reason on Brown by himself.
The most difficult thing about defending the passing game of the Steelers is because you cannot sell out against either the run or pass with a running back like Le’Veon Bell in the backfield. Bell is 3rd leading rusher in the league, and makes their offense hum when they get him the ball. His patient running style provides headaches for defenses, and he is great at finding holes where they seem non-existent. They are very effective at getting him the ball in a multitude of ways, including spreading him out and using him as a receiving threat.
Defensively the Steelers are among the best in the league, standing at 5th in total defense, and 2nd in scoring defense. They are led by a great core of linebackers in Ryan Shazier and T.J. Watt, alongside a strong defensive line who is great at getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
They are much more susceptable to the run than the passing game. Only ranking 15th against the rush, vs 2nd against the passing game. They’ve only given up 2 touchdowns all season long through the air, while giving up 18 on the ground.
Where the defense will get you is by feeding into their strengths. They like to apply pressure from different areas, especially the linebackers and secondary. If you get into 3rd and long a lot, it will be a rough day as they are very good at disguising defenses and where a blitz is coming from.
So How Can the Colts do it, How Can they Beat the Steelers?
1) Pressure Big Ben
In the previous 3 meetings that I laid out earlier, the Colts were only able to make contact with Ben on 2 occasions. 108 drop backs with only 2 hits on Big Ben, and no sacks. That is why he has picked the Colts apart in the past few years. Get Pressure on him and he will make errant decisions. For the year he has 10 touchdowns and 9 ints, 5 of those came in a game where Roethlisberger was under pressure all game long by Jacksonville. Emulate what the Jaguars did and the Colts can slow down the passing game.
2) Keep Butler over top of Brown All Game Long
I don’t care about the situation, the down and yardage, the look from the Steelers. If the Colts don’t help out on Antonio Brown they will be burned, and burned deep. The Colts do not have a corner to match up against Brown 1-1, nobody in the league does. So be smart and put someone over top of him while allowing the rest of the defense to worry about Bell in the running game. Pittsburgh is a great at picking up “chunk plays”, averaging over 12 yards per reception. Do not allow Antonio Brown to beat you deep, no matter what.
3) Eat Every Ounce of the Clock, Suck the Life out of the Game
If the Colts want to win on Sunday, they will need to limit the possessions that Pittsburgh has, and eat all of the time in the game. ALL OF IT! Do exactly what teams used to do against the Colts when #18 was the quarterback. The Colts must get off the field on 3rd down, and they must dominate the ball on offense. The difference in this game may be decided by a couple 3 and outs on offense, allowing Pittsburgh to have good field position and strike quickly on offense. The Colts cannot win in that type of game. It must be ugly, it must be old school, and it must be something we’ve not seen from this team and coaching staff in a long time.
There it is. Make this game ugly, get pressure on Big Ben, and DO NOT ALLOW ANTONIO BROWN TO BEAT YOU.