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Bold and Bizarre predictions for Steelers vs. Colts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/28/2022 - 12:00pm
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Much to the chagrin of most, BTSC’s Nostradumbass predicts the Steelers’ matchup vs. the Indianapolis Colts.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to travel to the Midwest to take on the Indianapolis Colts for Week 12 action. Indy is already on their second head coach, but still has a way outside shot at the playoffs. With inquiries, story lines, and more, I’ve compiled a list of predictions (some basic, and some utterly idiotic) to look for in this challenging home contest.

For those new to the article, I sometimes come close, but ultimately whiff on most of my predictions. Let’s see if I can get lucky this week.

  • Art Rooney II and Jim Irsay converse before the game with the Colts’ owner suggesting a bet in which the winning team gets the other team’s starting quarterback. In a strange move not allowed by the NFL, the Steelers try to name both Mason Rudolph and Mitch Trubisky starters.
  • Ben Roethlisberger calls his own press conference to remind Kenny Pickett that 17 years to the day, he and the Steelers lost 26-7, realizes that the anniversary is nothing to brag about, and abruptly excuses himself to go see a man about a horse. He then proceeds to buys the Colt’s mascot, Blue.
  • Upon hearing that Blue was criticized for lewd behavior during the Eagles’ game-winning touchdown last week, former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown emerges and proclaims, “Hold my phallic-shaped gummies”.
  • Kenny Pickett goes 28 for 44 and 280 yards.
  • The Steelers rookie QB1 actually throws two touchdowns and is not intercepted once.
  • Pat Freiermuth catches 9 balls.
  • George Pickens catches a touchdown pass and to celebrate the touchdown and the 25th Anniversary of the final episode of “Beavis & Butt-head” on MTV, pulls his jersey over his head in tribute to Beavis’ “Cornholio” act.
  • The Steelers get called for “illegal man down field” twice.
  • Stephen Sims seemingly returns the opening kickoff for a score, but it is called back.
  • Najee Harris gains 111 yards on the ground and scores a touchdown.
  • The Steelers get four sacks, two by T.J. Watt, one by Alex Highsmith and another by Montravius Adams
  • Damontae Kazee and Levi Wallace pick off Matt Ryan, but the Steelers defense still surrenders three touchdown passes.
  • The Steelers rushing defense keeps Johnathan Taylor in check.

The Steelers get two touchdowns on the day, and two field goals from Matthew Wright. The Steelers win 20-19.

Will any of this actually happen? I’ll bet at least one or two. Heck, maybe every one of them. Be sure to post your predictions — basic or bizarre — below.

Predicting the Steelers’ inactive list for Week 12 vs. the Colts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/28/2022 - 11:00am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

There will be somewhere between two and four injured players on the list this week.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading to Indianapolis for their only Monday night game of the 2022 season. As the season rolls on, the true nature of the depth chart has come much more into focus, but injuries are still a driving force when it comes to the inactive list every week. For Week 12, the Steelers have four players with an injury status so one or two roster moves should be coming by Monday’s 4 PM deadline.

The rules in the 2022 season when it comes to the players active on game day have been carried over from the last two seasons. As long as a team has eight offensive lineman who will be dressing for the game, they could have 48 players on their active roster rather than the 46 in previous seasons. If the Steelers elevate any players from their practice squad, their inactive list would increase by the same number of players. The Steelers will need another running back for the game, so at least one elevation should be coming with another dependent on players listed as questionable.

Game Status

OUT:
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring)
RB Jaylen Warren (hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE:
WR Miles Boykin (oblique)
LB Robert Spillane (back)

Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for the Steelers against the Colts on Monday:

Definitely:

CB Ahkello Witherspoon- I still need a reminder as to why he hasn’t been placed on the Reserved/Injured List (IR).

RB Jaylen Warren- This one hurts a little bit, but it is much better that Warren is out now then to lose him in-game. I see Anthony McFarland being elevated from the practice squad to take Warren‘s snaps.

Most Likely:

QB Mason Rudolph- It should be 11 for 11 for Rudolph.

G Kendrick Green- Green is in the same boat as Rudolph as he will once again not get a helmet.

CB Josh Jackson- The Steelers made this move last week going with four cornerbacks and five safeties. I expect it to continue with Jackson being inactive until I see them do something different.

Possibly:

WR Miles Boykin- Whether or not Boykin plays will probably be decided around 4 PM. If the Steelers bring up a wide receiver from the practice squad then chances are he will miss the game.

LB Robert Spillane- Figuring out if Spillane will play or not will come down to the last minute when the inactive list is released. The Steelers don’t need to make a roster move to cover for him as it would be Mark Robinson getting the helmet with Spillane inactive.

LB Mark Robinson- As I just said, Robinson gets the helmet if Spillane can’t go. One or the other should land on the inactive list.

Unlikely:

WR Cody White- Hear me out. If Miles Boykin can’t go, I see the Steelers elevating Cody White off the practice squad. Although they could pull what they did with Elijah Riley a couple weeks ago when they brought him up due to Minkah Fitzpatrick’s appendectomy but ultimately had him inactive, I don’t think the Steelers would do the same thing as they’re only making the move a little more than four hours ahead a kick off. If White is elevated, then I think Boykin lands on the inactive list.

Projected Inactive List:
  1. Ahkello Witherspoon
  2. Jaylen Warren
  3. Mason Rudolph
  4. Kendrick Green
  5. Josh Jackson
  6. Mark Robinson
  7. Miles Boykin*

I’m having a list of six as I am certain the Steelers are going to bring up a running back. I don’t see them going into the game with only two. Although it could be Jason Huntley or Master Teague, I would have to think it would be Anthony McFarland as the first choice to be elevated.

The first four names are slam dunks unless a roster move is made and puts one of them on IR. Witherspoon and Warren being ruled out, and there’s no possible injury at quarterback or offensive line to have Rudolph or Green active, lock in the first four names. Josh Jackson isn’t a slam dunk but highly likely. The sixth spot comes down to whether or not Spillane can play so it would be him or Mark Robinson getting the helmet. I’m assuming Spillane can go but may get the Myles Jack treatment from a couple weeks ago and not see the field.

The reason I added the seventh name is if the Steelers have to list seven players. If so, I believe it’s because they bring up a wide receiver, most likely Cody White, because Miles Boykin will not be able to go. If the Steelers don’t make that move, then look for Boykin to be active and the list to consist of six players.

While there are still possibilities of other moves that could be made such as DeMarvin Leal being activated from IR, they are so involved right now I’m not even going to factor them into the equation. But if they happen before 4 PM, look for an update.

As always, feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.

FILM ROOM: Why the Steelers shouldn’t throw out the jet sweeps yet

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/28/2022 - 10:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the jet sweep motion plays from Week 11.

A lot of fans hate the jet sweep, as well as some analysts too. It is understandable because it is the part of Matt Canada’s offense that is easiest to point out. So if you don’t like Matt Canada as the offensive coordinator, you probably don’t like the jet sweeps.

But are the jet sweeps really a problem? Through ten games the Steelers are averaging 5.4 yards per carry on wide receiver runs. That’s not bad at all. In fact, that is what the two most efficient running teams in the NFL (Baltimore and Chicago) average. But the value of the jet sweep goes much farther than just being a slightly more effective run play. That’s what we are going to look at in this film room. The jet sweep runs didn’t work well in Week 11, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t valuable. Let’s go to the tape.

Steelers vs. Bengals, 1st quarter, 8:47

Watch the Bengals linebackers.

Here’s the first jet motion the Steelers used in Week 11. Watch the linebackers here. They move with the jet motion, and when Najee Harris fakes running against the flow of the motion, the linebackers over-react and give Harris room to gain decent yards.

I want you to notice that it is the cornerback coming in from off screen that makes the tackle here. Now watch how the jet motion affected him.

Look at how much time and space the jet motion added to the cornerback’s path to the football on this play. This is only a five-yard run, but you can see here how the attention defenses pay to the jet motion help a simple run play with how it manipulates the defense.

Steelers vs. Bengals, 1st quarter, 6:53

Zach Gentry is the tight end to the top of the screen.

The next play with jet motion is a shovel pass, and it doesn’t work. We’ve seen how the jet motion affects spacing, and on this play, we see how it affects timing. The decision whether to hand this play off to the receiver or pitch to Gentry has to be made incredibly fast here, and even then, the timing for the pitch to Gentry is delayed by the fake.

We can debate whether Pickett made the right choice here but look at how quickly he has to move from catching the slightly high snap to making this pitch. That’s not much time to read the defense at all.

But what we can see is how the Steelers block the play, and where Zach Gentry catches the ball. Gentry needs to be farther inside, following Kevin Dotson’s pulling block. The defensive end is supposed to be unblocked; the play needs to be inside the end. The timing isn’t perfect, and Gentry is led right into the end for a loss.

The high snap wrecks this play’s timing because there is no margin for error here.

Although, honestly, the execution on these shovel passes has been so bad this whole season, it’s hard to put too much blame on any player.

Steelers vs. Bengals, 1st quarter, 0:31

George Pickens is the receiver to the bottom of the screen.

Again the jet sweep moves the linebackers, and that movement creates a bigger opening for George Pickens’ in-route. Kenny Pickett sees that and makes the throw. The problem on this route is Pickens is heading more up field than Pickett expects. You can see George Pickens reaching back for the ball, and that means he’s not in between the ball and the defender so Eli Apple is able to dive and defend the pass.

The motion opened up space, but on this play the quarterback and receiver are executing a tiny bit differently, and it leads to an incomplete pass. Sadly this is the only downfield pass off of jet motion in the game.

Steelers vs. Bengals, 2nd quarter, 14:34

Watch the middle of the Bengals defense.

The Bengals are worried about that jet motion, and this time they clear out the middle of their defense and it makes this an easy seven-yard run for Harris. The linebacker in the middle of the field to start the play is never blocked and is uninvolved in the run. The jet motion takes him completely out of the play, effectively blocking the Bengals’ middle linebacker with a receiver. Later in the same drive it would be even better.

Steelers vs. Bengals, 2nd quarter, 13:04

Watch the three Bengals defenders to the bottom of the screen.

The linebacker goes from the hashmarks to the bottom of the screen to the other hashmarks, and because of that he is blocked by George Pickens before Dan Moore Jr. comes and walls him in. Even the cornerback gets caught up inside and ends up tripping.

The Bengals don’t handle this jet motion well at all and it leads to a 19-yard touchdown run.

Steelers vs. Bengals, 2nd quarter, 4:39

Diontae Johnson comes in motion from the right.

The Bengals have a numbers advantage in the box on this third and 1 play, but quickly sacrifice that advantage to the jet motion. The Steelers actually hand this one off and Johnson picks up the yard even with the defense sending three defenders after two Steelers. It’s very hard to stop a jet sweep from gaining a yard or two if the runner is aware enough to dive forward when they have an opening.

Steelers vs. Bengals, 2nd quarter, 2:20

Watch the linebacker and safety to the top of the screen.

This is a defense of jet-motion plays we saw a good bit in 2020 and 2021. The safety crashes hard on the motion while the linebacker steps up and blitzes. It is a great counter to both the jet sweep and a normal run play with jet motion added in.

The weakness in this defense is pretty easy to see though, just look at Diontae Johnson to the top of the screen. The safety is gone on his side, it’s one-on-one and the Bengals are going to have a hard time stopping a lot of different routes Jonson could run here. With the success on run plays leading up to this play, and the risks the Bengals took here to stop the run, you might expect to see the Steelers work more jet motion into the second half offense and look to exploit a safety coming up like this by throwing the ball.

I mean, if you didn’t read me saying that the incompletion to George Pickens was the only pass with jet motion in the game, hadn’t watched the game, and also weren’t familiar with Matt Canada’s Steelers offense, then you might expect that...

Steelers vs. Bengals, 3rd quarter, 14:24

Watch the Bengals defensive end, second from the left on screen.

The Steelers do go back to jet motion, but with 8 men in the box, the Bengals call this play as soon as the motion comes, rightly pointing out, and defending a run to the right for Najee Harris. This play only has two receivers, and Steven Sims (running the jet motion) is one of them. Pat Freiermuth isn’t in on this play either. It’s Diontae Johnson and a bunch of people that scream “run play”.

The worst part is that defensive end. He crashes hard inside, and beats Harris to his run lane. They knew what was coming here as the Steelers saw the Bengals sell out to defense the run toward the end of the first half and came out to start the second half by doubling down on not throwing the ball when they use jet motion.

Steelers vs. Bengals, 3rd quarter, 6:56

You know what, save yourself, don’t watch this one.

Yep. This happened. I’ve got nothing to say here that the editors wouldn’t have to remove so yeah, enjoy whatever that was.

The only other jet motion of the second half came early in the fourth quarter.

Steelers vs. Bengals, 4th quarter, 11:34

Just to remind Steelers fans that the jet motion can be a very good tool, Matt Canada goes back to this play. It pulls the linebackers out of position and Najee Harris runs for 13 yards.

On jet motion plays, Najee Harris ran 6 times and gained 45 yards with a touchdown. That means on plays without jet motion Harris had 45 yards and a touchdown on 14 runs.

You can see right there the value of using the jet sweep. Now imagine an offensive coordinator who was willing to call more than one pass play with jet motion a game, without counting shovel passes.

Just as it is clear that Matt Canada has serious flaws as an offensive coordinator, it’s also clear that the jet motion should stay, and maybe even see more usage, especially with an increase in passing plays using jet motion to make teams pay if they overplay the run.

The 2022 season is a cautionary tale to the quick-fix philosophy

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/28/2022 - 9:00am
9Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

For those teams who went all-in on a proven commodity, many are regretting their decisions after the early returns in 2022.

Considering the struggles of their favorite team in 2022, Pittsburgh Steelers fans are looking for the answers to all the questions and issues that are currently holding the team back from the success they’ve grown so accustomed to. It’s understandable. Since the Immaculate Reception in 1972 gave the Steelers their first ever playoff win, the organization has been unmatched as a perennial contender with 32 playoff appearances in 49 years and 6 Super Bowl titles.

But in recent years, frustrations are mounting, specifically with the Steelers’ relative unwillingness to part with what some consider an archaic form of team building. For decades, the organization has relied heavily on drafting and developing home-grown, championship-level rosters and very little on the trade and free agent markets to flesh out a contender.

Other NFL clubs have been more open to the concept of “buying” a Super Bowl squad from other team’s home-grown talents and players who hit free agency in their prime. It’s an exciting, click-bait style of team building, but even more so than that, it has worked.

Fans point to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Rams, who took decent rosters and added outside pieces to push themselves from competitive to contending in one offseason. The Bucs added the GOAT, Tom Brady, to a loaded offensive group that appeared to be a quarterback away from elite status. It worked. Tampa Bay hoisted a Lombardi in their home stadium in year one of that experiment.

The Rams haven’t had a first-round draft pick in 5 years, trading multiple one’s for players like Jalen Ramsey and Matthew Stafford to elevate an already solid roster. Again, it worked! The Rams are the defending Super Bowl champions in the same year they paid the big price for Stafford.

Go back to 2012 and you’ll find another similar story in the Denver Broncos, who acquired future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and proceeded to appear in 2 Super Bowls in 4 years, winning one. So yeah, there have been some nice success stories with this more modern approach to roster management.

But 2022 is telling us a little bit of a different story about this method, weaving a cautionary tale for those over-zealous fans pining for a similar tactic for their teams.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that not all scenarios are equal in this equation. However, there are lessons we can learn from other teams’ experiments. Let’s start with the 2022 Denver Broncos, who sold the farm for another high-profile quarterback, this time former Seattle Seahawks’ star Russell Wilson. The reasoning was Tampa Bay-level sound, with the team boasting an elite defense and a bevy of offensive weapons and an elite quarterback away from a championship. Two first-round picks and a $200+ million contract later, the Broncos are wallowing in offensive futility and an equally poor record at 3-7. Wilson has been an abject disaster in Denver, and there doesn’t seem to be a turnaround coming. Poor coaching plays into this story, but the Broncos will be reeling from this franchise-altering decision for years barring a drastic change in performance happening fast.

The 2021 NFL Champions are doing some reeling of their own. As Mordo in Marvel’s Doctor Strange so ominously states,

“The bill comes due.”

It has for the L.A. Rams, who are floundering in historic fashion despite returning essentially the same roster as the one that brought home a trophy just last year. The issue? The Rams forfeited their ability to reload and build depth through the draft, which left the door open for injuries and performance regression to absolutely decimate the group in 2022.

Even the Cleveland Browns, despite a unique situation, are risking a lot giving up a king’s ransom for a quarterback who hasn’t played in almost two years. For a roster with as many issues on defense and at wide receiver as they have, the Browns will struggle to fill those holes without the draft capital and cap space they relinquished in the blockbuster deal for Deshaun Watson, no matter how good he turns out to be.

I haven’t even mentioned the Las Vegas Raiders spending a 1st and a 2nd round pick to acquire Davante Adams from the Packers. As a result, the disappointing Raiders had no early selections in 2022 to round out their porous roster.

Many Steelers fans were calling for the team to pursue an elite veteran quarterback this last offseason. Wilson, Watson, and even Aaron Rodgers were in the conversation. Based on how each of those players are faring so far in 2022, can we really say the Steelers would be better off with one of them as their starter instead of the rookie Kenny Pickett? Consider beyond that the draft capital it would have required to acquire one of them. It would have been a serious miscalculation by a Pittsburgh team with real needs at offensive tackle, cornerback, guard, and even linebacker. Rarely is a team truly “one player away.”

The moral to this story is this: Maybe the patient approach that has hallmarked the Steelers franchise over the years is still the best method of team building.

Recently, Mike Tomlin has emphasized the phrase, “...prudent use of mobility”regarding his quarterbacks. When it comes to building a championship roster, the “prudent use” of free agency and the trade block to supplement the team’s historical draft-and-develop philosophy would seem to be the most, well, prudent approach.

I for one still believe in the Steelers “old-school” style. The organization has established a solid foundation of young talent to build on for the future without mortgaging it. Beyond franchise cornerstones like T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Cam Heyward playing at the peak of their talents, look at this list of promising young contributors all acquired through the draft:

QB Kenny Pickett

RB Najee Harris

WR George Pickens

TE Pat Freiermuth

IDL DeMarvin Leal

OLB Alex Highsmith

That group gives Pittsburgh a legit high ceiling if developed properly. Elite results may not be immediate, but there’s a pathway in place to get there. And once you’ve arrived, it’s definitively more sustainable than the quick-fix philosophy that is so popular today.

“The bill comes due.”

Keep that in mind the next time you’re begging for the Steelers to jump on the shiniest new toy that comes available, no matter the cost.

STAFF PICKS: Predicting the winner of Steelers vs. Colts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/28/2022 - 8:00am
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The staff at BTSC share their thoughts and predict the outcome of the Steelers game against the Colts in Week 12.

The 2022 regular season is full swing, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12. While the Steelers get ready for their latest road game of the season, it is time for the BTSC staff to put on their prognostication hats and guess the winner of the contest.

Who will get closest? We will be keeping tabs, so let’s get the picks. Check out the staff picks below:

Jeff Hartman

This game is one which I have no clue how it will play out. You have two middle-of-the-road teams going head-to-head in prime time. Will the Steelers be able to go on the road and beat an average Colts team? They should be able to, but nothing is certain with this Steelers team.

The 2.5-point spread to the Colts is interesting. The books clearly know something, and it’s why they didn’t give Indianapolis the stock 3-point home spread. I think the Steelers find a way to win.

Pick: Steelers 23, Colts 21

Dave Schofield

I have to go with the same philosophy that K.T. Smith said on the Here We Go, The Steelers Pregame Show podcast. He said when the game is a toss up, he always goes with the Steelers. I do the same. I also listened to the show to where he had a score of 17–9 so I was happy we didn’t have the same prediction. Unfortunately, he changed it for this article so you’ll see that our numbers are the same. The bottom line is I expect the defenses to rule this game. But since I expect it, watch both teams score in the 30s.

Pick: Steelers 17, Colts 13

Bryan Anthony Davis

I feel that the Steelers really could win this game. I’m just not sure if that’s the path that they are prepared to go down. They will need a complete game victory and I think this is Najee’s game.

Pick: Steelers 20, Colts 19

K.T. Smith

The Steelers have had great success against the Colts over the years, whether the Baltimore or Indianapolis versions. How great? According to Bryan Anthony Davis, they are 21-3 against the Horseshoes since 1978. That’s about as dominant as it gets.

Unfortunately, there is little reason to believe that dominance will carry over to this season. Indy is very good on defense and the Steelers don’t excel in any particular area. I think it will be another frustrating affair on Monday night, with Pittsburgh making enough mistakes to doom themselves in the end.

Pick: Colts 17, Steelers 13

Geoffrey Benedict

I don’t think this is a good matchup for the Steelers. The Colts offensive line is improving, and has the talent to be really good. Their defense is top notch and features great defensive tackles. The Steelers offensive line struggles with the really good tackles, and I don’t expect that to change this week. Matt Ryan with a bit of time and a run game to help him will find his young, fast receivers and I expect the Colts to shut down the Steelers run game that the entire offense depends on to function. This one could get ugly.

Pick: Steelers 10, Colts 24

Rich Schofield (Big Bro Scho)

I fell for it last week and picked the Steelers when I said I wouldn't until they could showore consistent play I won't make that mistake again. I want to think the team pulls it together and plays complimentary football, but who do I think I'm kidding.

Pick: Colts 10, Steelers 9

Shannon White

This is not a good matchup for the Steelers. The Colts have been playing inspired football since controversial new HC Jeff Saturday took the reigns. The Colts offensive line finally seems to be getting back on track, and Jonathan Taylor is starting to cook. The Colts defense is exceptional all around, both against the run and the pass. They possess possibly the best interior defensive line tandem in the NFL, and a shutdown secondary. I fear the Steelers will struggle to effectively move the football, even more than usual. The Steelers need another Herculean effort from their defense, but that's a lot to ask. I will stick with my Know Your Enemy podcast prediction.

Pick: Colts 20, Steelers 17

Jeremy Betz

I don’t have a huge take on this game other than the Steelers defense matches up nicely with a run-dependent Colts offense. Wrangling Jonathan Taylor is priority number one. With success there, the pass rush can let fly on Matt Ryan. For the Steelers O, it’s about continuing that potent run game we’ve seen the last couple weeks. It creates so much more for Kenny Pickett to work with. I like the Steelers, who are playing better, in primetime.

Pick: Steelers 23, Colts 16

Bradley Locker

Fundamentally, the Colts present a very challenging matchup for the Steelers. Indianapolis’ defense is tremendous at every level, and its secondary — with Stephon Gilmore and Kenny Moore II — projects well against Diontae Johnson and George Pickens. On the other hand, can Pittsburgh’s front seven stop Jonathan Taylor enough? This game is definitely winnable, but the Colts have looked much improved under Jeff Saturday. I think Indy keeps it going on Monday night.

Pick: Colts 24, Steelers 21

Kyle Chrise (What Yinz Talkin’ Bout)

The Steelers and Colts have the 4th and 5th fewest points scored in the NFL so far. It reminds me of the song from Damn Yankees (the musical not the band): “We’re two lost souls, on the highway of life. One with no sail, and one with no rudder.” But Coach Tomlin knows how to motivate when there’s seemingly little to play for. Look for the Steelers to have “miles and miles and miles of heart” in this prime time matchup.

Pick: Steelers 24, Colts 20

Anthony Defeo

The Colts have the fourth-ranked defense in the NFL. The Colts have the 25th-ranked offense in the NFL. It’s too bad the Steelers are 27th and 28th in each category, respectively. My heart is telling me this will be an ugly night in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, my head is telling me the same thing.

Pick: Colts 20, Steelers 10

What is your prediction? Let us know in the comment section below, and feel free to tell the contributors above why they are dead wrong, or spot on!

The BTSC Delorean: Looking back at the most memorable Steelers vs. Colts contests

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/28/2022 - 7:00am
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Taking a look at the most memorable Steelers and Colts contests.

Do the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers have a long and storied history? They do not. The rivalry dates back to 1950 but the series only includes 32 games. No matter the record of either team, they both always seem to put on a fantastic show with great storylines attached. The Steelers hold a big advantage in the series with a record of 26-6 including 5 playoff victories over the men from Indy and formerly B-More. The Steelers have won seven-straight in the rivalry.

Here’s a brief tale of the tape:

Points: Steelers 826, Colts 537

Wins: Steelers 26, Colts 6

Home Record: Steelers 17-2, Colts 4-9

Shutouts: 1 - Steelers 30, Colts 0 (9/15/1974)

Biggest Win Margin: 42 - 9/8/1985 - Steelers 45, Colts 3

Closest Game: Colts 17, Steelers 16 (10/21/1984)

Overtime Games: None

Postseason Record: Steelers 5, Colts 0

October 21, 1984 - Colts 17, Steelers 16

1984 was a year of fluctuation for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were seeing more and more players from the dynasty days of the 1970s depart. With rotating quarterbacks, Mark Malone and David Woodley, the Steelers identity was frequently changing. After stunning the undefeated San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park the week before, the 4-3 black and gold found themselves in an unfamiliar city taking on the 2-5 Colts, who notoriously snuck out of Baltimore on March 31st that year to relocate to the Hoosier State. The two teams were not operating with high-powered offenses, but a prerequisite on this day would be mastery of the tip drill.

The Steelers made their presence known on the scoreboard in the first quarter via Gary Anderson’s 53-yard kick (a then record for the franchise), and Louis Lipps’ 62-yard scoring connection from Woodley. The touchdown came to be when Tate Randle tipped the pass in the air and No. 83 turned on the jets and raced into the end zone with the score presenting at 13-0 in favor of the Steel City visitors. In the fourth, the Colts climbed back to get within three points on a Raul Allegre 41-yarder and an 8-yard dash to the end zone by Alvin Moore to make the score 13-10. An Anderson field goal with 1:35 left made it impossible for the Colts to merely get into field goal range at 16-10. With :34 the game got equal parts crazy and bizarre. Mike Pagel, subbing for an ineffective Mark Herrmann (who just returned and replaced Pagel), was nearly sacked by Edmund Nelson when he threw in the vicinity of a blue shirt. But Sam Washington stretched to pick off Pagel’s passed pigskin and bobbled it like a hot potato when Ray Butler strolled by and plucked it with ease and finished the 54-yard jog to glory. The Steelers were stunned on a day that their defense dominated with an Eric Williams INT and six sacks with three by Mike Merriweather. But despite 81 yards by Frank Pollard, the inept offensive output made the expected outcome are harsh alternate reality.

September 8, 1985 - Steelers 45, Colts 3

The sun of success did not shine very bright on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the mid 1980s, but nobody would know it by the performance of the black and gold in the 1985 season opener at Three Rivers Stadium. Mark Malone completes 21 of 28 throws for 287 yds and five TDs to tie Terry Bradshaw’s single-game record. Malone also called his own number and ran one in for six.

No. 16 started the scoring with a nine-play and 5:45 drive that concluded with a gorgeous catch by Louis Lipps (9 catches for 154 yds and 3 TDs), but Johnie Cooks intercepted the Steelers QB on the next series, and points were put on the board when Raul Allegre kicked a field goal of 39 yards after a Keith Willis sack of QB Art Schlicter. Almost getting intercepted again, Malone rebounded to connect with Lipps, this time for a score from 11 yards out. The Steelers would continue to pour it on in the second with a 30-yard Anderson field goal and a Rich Erenberg touchdown reception on a backpedal from Malone right before the half. That score was made possible due to future Steeler punter Rohn Stark mishandling the snap and trying to lateral the ball behind his back, only to have the Steelers recover.

Malone did it again midway through the third with a sustained drive that concluded with a fade pass to John Stallworth (6 catches for 65 yards and a TD) for a 6-yard score. Then Mike Merriweather, who almost picked off Schlichter a play earlier, indeed intercepted the pass this time. But the Steelers couldn’t convert, and Anderson hit the right upright on a 51-yard attempt. Malone didn’t throw a touchdown pass on the next series, but he had a one-yard touchdown run after Tate Randle’s interception was nullified on a pass interference call on Eugene Daniel on a pass play to Stalworth. With 9:30 left in the game, the jumbotron read Steelers 38, Colts 3. After a Dwayne Woodruff interception on the previous series, the former first rounder out of Arizona State tossed his fifth scoring pass and the third of the day to Lipps for a 45-3 final. Malone had possibly the greatest performance of his career, as the defense would only give up 159 total yards versus 445 from the home team. But Malone would go on to only throw eight more touchdown passes in nine total contests, as the 1985season would only be as great as this day.

January 14, 1996 - Steelers 20, Colts 16 (1995 AFC Championship Game)

Three more yards was the cry all throughout the 1995 season after the demoralizing loss to the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Championship the year before. The opportunity would finally present itself against the upstart Indianapolis Colts and Captain Comeback, Jim Harbaugh.

The Steelers appeared to come out smokin’ and with good field position after Ernie Mills had a great kick return on the opening kick negated due to a Donta Jones roughness penalty, The excitement waned quickly when Neil O’Donnell threw a pass to Mills that was tipped by Tony Saragusa and intercepted by Jeff Herrod and advanced to the black and gold 24-yard line. But the Blitzburgh defense bottled up the Colts and Carrie Blanchard’s 30-yard field goal attempt clanked off of the upright and went in. The Colts led 3-0 with only two minutes and 43 seconds gone in the game. You just knew it was going to be one of those days.

It took the Steelers until their third possession to put a productive drive together, but it stopped at the Colts 13 in a frustrating manner for the Steelers when O’Donnell’s perfect strike to Kordell Stewart fell incomplete at the front of the end zone. However, officials missed an egregious pass interference call on Jason Belser who got there way too early. Fans booed the replay loudly as Belser did a full body flex at the Three Rivers Stadium faithful. The Steelers settled for a Norm Johnson 30-yard field goal to tie it up at 3-3. The tie didn’t last long as they countered next with another Blanchard field goal. Both defenses were bending but didn’t break until the Steelers took the ball at their own 20 and engineered a 16-play drive that climaxed in an O’Donnell to Stewart touchdown collaboration over Belser for five yards on 3rd and goal. The play should have not been allowed because Kordell briefly stepped out of the end zone before the pass was thrown. It ended up being a makeup call for the illegal Belser breakup from before. The Steelers drained 7:27 off of the clock and went into the locker room at halftime up 10-6.

Getting the ball at the 25 on the opening kick of the second half, Harbaugh guided his team as far as the Pittsburgh 20. A 37-yard field goal was the fruit of that drive’s labor for Indy. The Steelers would not answer and the Colts would be on the move into black-and-gold territory again, but the Big Nasty D would force another field goal attempt that would not go through the uprights from 47-yards out. Norm Johnson and the Steelers did have an answer in the form of a 36-yard field goal when the offensive efforts came to a halt at the visitor’s 18. With the score 13-9 in the closing seconds of the third.

A three-and-out by an inspired Steelers defense gave the offense an opportunity to drain clock and extend the tally to possibly a two-score game. But a decent drive got cold when O’Donnell suffered a streak of incompletions and the normally reliable Johnson missed on a kick of 40.

With Ted Marchibroda’s Colts possessing the ball at the 30 and 10:57 separating the Steelers from a trip to Phoenix for Super Bowl XXX, the defense needed to protect their lead. What transpired was slightly less than desirable, as Harbaugh completed three straight passes. From the 47 of Pittsburgh, hinders all over the world gasped in horror as Captain Comeback launched one deep to a wide-open Floyd Turner who rocketed into the end zone. Blanchard’s true extra-point made the score 16-13 with the clock showing 8:46 remaining. The Steelers had plenty of time to shine, but the offense was as cold as that January Joe Dinardo forecast and Rohn Stark emerged to punt the ball away to Indy. The Steelers looked to have gotten a huge break on the very next Colts possession when Lamont Warren had the ball tomahawked out of his arms by Levon Kirkland at the Indy 9, but the ball bounced high and was plucked out of the air by Joe Staysniak to retain the ball for the visitors. Then Brentson Buckner was not called for a roughness penalty on Harbaugh for a very late hit after the whistle, and the Colts were facing a 3rd and 1 at the 21 when Willie Williams made a huge defensive stop. Warren had a hole in which it looked like he could have run forever, but No. 27 tripped him up from behind with an ankle tackle for no gain. The Steelers would get another shot, but precious time poured off of the clock.

With the ball back at the 3:03 mark, Neil came out firing completions to Stewart and John L., but the next pass almost ended things in disaster for the home team when O’Donnell’s pass to Mills was a sure pick-six dropped by Quentin Coryatt. Despite the new life, an incompletion on third down set up a 4th and 3 from the Indianapolis 47. O’Donnell hit Hastings for a nine-yard gain and a first down with 2:00 to go. On the very next play, No. 14 called an 80-Semi Go, a double-move to Ernie Mills and went for it all. No. 89 hauled in the pass at the 1 and Bam Morris would burst in two plays later for the go-ahead touchdown and a 20-16 lead. But 1:34 was a ton of time for Captain Comeback despite spending two timeouts on the Steelers last possession and starting out at their own 16. Harbaugh would move his team to midfield with :39 seconds left when his pass was intercepted but dropped by Chris Oldham, who could have sealed it there. After completing a 4th and 2 to Sean Dawkins, the Colts had the ball at the Pittsburgh 38. A Harbaugh scramble for nine and a spike to stop the clock at :07. With one last play for a Super Bowl bid, Harbs launched a Hail Mary with three men to the right side of the end zone. All along Aaron Bailey was the target, and when the ball finally came down after seemingly hanging in the air forever, it appeared that Bailey had come down with the football. However, Randy Fuller had knocked it to the turf and an official was right there to call it incomplete. The Back Judge Tim Mills later said, “If I didn’t see it hit the ground, the wrong team goes to the Super Bowl”. Regardless of what happened in Arizona two weeks later, it was an epic win in a thriller on a cold day in Pittsburgh and the Steelers were in the Super Bowl for the first time in 16 seasons.

October 12, 1997 - Steelers 22, Colts 20

Something that goes back to the days of the Bible or the 1976 theatrical release of Rocky, you should never look past an opponent or play down to Your competition. Both Goliath and Apollo Creed found that out the hard way when they overlooked David and Robert Balboa respectively. In 1997 the 3-2 Pittsburgh Steelers were a game behind the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Central and a schedule featuring Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Kansas City and Baltimore on the horizon, a game against the 0-5 Indianapolis Colts figured to be a break for the Steelers. But Lindy Infante’s Colts had other ideas on ESPN Sunday Night Football.

The Steelers came out ice cold and the Colts the opposite. Jim Harbaugh’s touchdown throw to Marvin Harrison from the 18, followed by a Jerome Bettis turnover that led to a Cary Blanchard 37-yard field goal has the Steelers down to the Colts just like that. The Colts led 10-0 at the conclusion of the first quarter. But the Steelers were marching, and on a drive that featured 49 yards on seven carries by Jerome Bettis, Norm Johnson came in and booted a 22-yarder when that drive stalled on the 5. The Steelers would score on the next two possessions after that, as well. Donnell Woolford’s interception return of 33 yards after a Harbaugh pass to the Indy 40 turned into a Jerome Bettis 7-yard touchdown run. Then Harbaugh fumbled on the next drive after being sacked by Carnell Lake, with No. 37 scooping up the fruits of his labor and returning it 38 yards to glory for the 17-10 score. The Lake return totally changed the complexion of the game. The Steelers had a chance to pile on before the half but Quentin Coryatt rocked Kordell helmet-to-helmet and the ball squirted free for the turnover at the Colts 27 with :26 seconds remaining. Stewart had to be helped off of the field with a badly rung bell.

In the second half, the Colts inched closer with another Blanchard field goal, this time from 27. The Steelers defense had stopped Harbaugh’s corps from another trip inside the red zone. Mike Tomczak, in for the concussed No. 10, stormed Pittsburgh down the field to another score in his second series behind center. The Steelers QB2 capped-off a sustained and balanced drive with a 28-yard scoring pass to Courtney Hawkins to extend the lead to 24-13. That was the end of the scoring until Indianapolis’ Blanchard converted a 35-yard field goal after Tomczak was intercepted twice to start the fourth quarter by Jason Belser and Dedric Mathis respectively. After the Blanchard field goal, the barrage of Pittsburgh mistakes continued with a fumble by George Jones and a 42-yard pass interference call on Myron Bell that led to a 5-yard Brian Stablein touchdown reception from the arm of Jim Harbaugh to cut the lead to 24-22 with the failed two-point conversion. Then Jerome Bettis’ second turnover two plays later gave the Colts a chance to take the lead at the Pittsburgh 25 with 4:56 remaining.

The Steelers defense held firm though and limited Marshall Faulk to -1 yard on three carries with tackles by Levon Kirkland, Greg Lloyd and Nolan Harrison, however the Steelers spent all three timeouts with the belief that a field goal would give the Colts the lead with his 14th-straight successful kick, but Blanchard’s 42-yard attempt was no good by pulling left. The Colts had three timeouts so the Steelers weren’t able to run out the clock, however Josh Miller’s punt rolled into the end zone and Captain Comeback couldn’t get his team in field goal range after Steven Conley sacked Harbaugh for an 8-yard loss. When the Colt QB’s heave was intercepted out of bounds by Wolford, the Steelers survived. Cowher’s Men of Steel, led by Bettis’ 164 yards rushing, increased their season mark to 4-2 and were on their way to a berth in the AFC Championship Game by season’s close.

October 21, 2002 - Steelers 28, Colts 10

The 2002 Pittsburgh Steelers took a while to find their identity. It looked like a lost season as Bill Cowher’s team started out 0-2 and nearly 0-3 until a quarterback switch from Kordell Stewart to Tommy Maddox saved the season. On a night when the Steelers would honor Maddox’ birthday-mate, Terry Bradshaw (September 2) at halftime for what would be known as the Blonde Bomber’s homecoming, the 2-3 Men of Steel would face a tough task in the Peyton Manning-led 4-1 Indy Colts. Maddox and the Steelers would start the game hot with a Joey Porter punt-block setting up a Tommy Gun to Hines Ward hookup for the score. The defense would keep shutting down Manning and his horses, as the Steelers would add two Jerome Bettis TD runs (3,5), with only a Mike Vanderjagt field goal (in two attempts) as an offensive highlight for the Colts. A Mike Peterson interception of Maddox amounted to nothing, as Brent Alexander would redeem his QB by picking off Manning with :20 seconds remaining in the half and the Steelers firmly ahead at Heinz, 21-3.

In the second half, Bill Cowher’s Steelers rebounded to quell the worry of a Manning scoring toss to Marcus Pollard to narrow the lead to 21-10 and a Bettis (33 yards and 2 TDs) exit due to a sprained left knee. However, Amos Zeroue (83 yards) and Plaxico Burress (6 receptions for 79 yards) along with Ward (5 catches for 76 yards) would pick up the offensive slack. Then the black and gold defense flummoxed No. 18 by intercepting the future Hall of Famer two more times, one by McKeesport Mike Logan to set up Ward’s second touchdown pass and a second interception for Alexander and would smother Indy with two sacks (Aaron Smith and Alexander), and those three interceptions. The win would even Pittsburgh’s record at 3-3, but prove that the Heinz Field Heroes could play with the big boys and start a run to the AFC North title.

January 15, 2006 - Steelers 21, Colts 18 (2005 AFC Divisional Playoff Game)

The Steelers entered the postseason as the sixth seed and were traveling to Indiana after their upset win over rival Cincinnati the previous week. Joey Porter, whose mouth wrote many a check regardless of his account balance, guaranteed a win over the two touchdown favorite Colts, a team that, destroyed the Steelers in that very building. The 14-2 Colts, with their high-powered offense and solid defense, would require luck and bizarre circumstances. With news circulating that DB Nick Harper had been stabbed in the leg with a steak knife by his wife in a domestic dispute the night before, the craziness commenced. The Colts kicked off to start the game, but the raucous home crowd had no effect on Ben Roethlisberger. Starting from the 16, Ben Roethlisberger went long for a 38 and 18-yard connection with the rookie Heath Miller on consecutive throws. Miller hauled in one for 18 more yards on the next play. Then on 3rd and 3 from the six, Ben threw a ball behind Antwaan Randle-El who made a good adjustment and captured the bullet for the touchdown. Just like that, Bill Cowher’s squad led 7-0. After a rare three-and-out for Indy, Roethlisberger was manhandled by Dwight Freeney with the ball squirting ahead to be intercepted by Cato June at the Colt 35. However, the home team had to punt again. No. 7 rebounded well from his passing gaffe and led his Steelers down the RCA Dome track again. With a mix of runs by Willie Parker, Jerome Bettis, and a long 3rd and 10 grab by Hines Ward, Big Ben called upon Miller for the TD with 3:12 left in opening quarter and a shocking 14-0 score. On the Colts third drive, the Steelers continued to harass Manning. Kimo von Oelhoffen had a huge sack to start the series. Manning finally completed a pass on his fifth attempt of the game for a first down to Marvin Harrison, but James Farrior sacked Manning for another huge loss, forcing 3rd and 24. Indy punted again. But Peyton Manning would come alive. From their own 2, the superstar QB led his thoroughbreds down the field, ending with James Mungro’s five-yard run for the score, but a second offsides by Tarik Glenn nullified it, and Indy settled for a 19-yard Mike Vanderjagt field goal. At the half, it was 14-3 in favor of the visiting underdogs.

Midway through the third quarter, the blue team barely got a punt off and the Men of Steel started at the Indianapolis 30, and Bettis finished off the drive with a 1-yard plunge to paydirt and leading 21-3 with 1:26 remaining in the third. Seconds before the quarter ended, Manning waved off Dungy’s punt decision and went for it from his own 36 and made it. It paid off a few moments later when No. 18 connected with Dallas Clark for a 50-yard score with 14:09 remaining. In the fourth, this big game got nuts. With 5:26 remaining, Peyton Manning threw what appeared to be a sure interception gabbed by Troy Polamalu. No. 43 caught the ball, rolled over on the ground while making a football move, dropped the ball and recovered it at midfield. That should have been the nail in Indianapolis’ coffin. Dungy challenged the call and the crowd erupted when the ref, Pete Morelli, announced the overturning of the call on the field as an incomplete pass. Dick Enberg and Dan Dierdorf, calling the game for CBS, expressed shock. Steeler Nation was stunned and enraged. Not wasting that second chance, Edgerrin James plunged in from the three and when Reggie Wayne converted the 2PC, the score was only 21-18 with 4:24 left. The Steelers couldn’t answer back, so Indy took over at their own 18 with 2:32 remaining and a chance to win or tie. But the Steeler defense, who had been flummoxing Manning all day, answered the bell. On 2nd and 8, Joey Porter sacked No. 18 for a loss of six. Then on 4th and 16, Porter and James Farrior dropped Manning to stop the Colts seemingly for good. The Steelers took over on downs and looked to ice the game with Bettis as the closer with the ball at the two. Everybody knows about the wall that was Gary Brackett that No. 36 ran into, and the rare fumble that occurred. When Nick Harper scooped up the ball and raced down the field, the collective jaws of Steeler Nation dropped. Whether it was the stabbing from the night before or divine intervention, something slowed down Harper enough for Roethlisberger to make arguably the most important of all tackles in Steeler history. With the jumbo package in the game to block, fast guys weren’t on the field to catch Harper. But Ben made the twisting ankle-tackle to save the TD. After that, the Colts still had a chance at their own 43 with 1:09 left. Manning immediately found Reggie Wayne for 21 yards to the Steeler 36 and Marvin Harrison got eight more to reach the 28, while Bettis nervously knelt on the sideline. On the next play, Manning went for the win on a long pass to Wayne, but rookie CB Bryant McFadden had amazing coverage and broke it up. On 3rd and 2, Manning went back to Wayne and McFadden almost intercepted this time. It would be a try from 46 to tie from Mike Vanderjagt, Bill Cowher iced the game’s most-accurate all-time kicker at that time, and the WVU product pointed with a mocking gesture to the Steeler coach for icing him. With :21 remaining, Bettis paced and Steeler fans painfully waited for the inevitable trip to OT, where the Steelers would surely lose. However, the cocky kicker had an ugly kick that was never close and sailed wide right. Vanderjagt slammed his helmet to the turf, as Bettis raised his in relief and delight. It was an upset victory and Cinderella story in the truest of forms that transformed pretenders into contenders and, a few weeks later, champions.

November 9, 2008 - Colts 24, Steelers 20

It was a classic matchup between an epic offense and a legendary defense as the 6-2 Steelers and 4-4 Indianapolis Colts battled in an important November contest at Heinz Field. A 4:25 start had most of the NFL world’s eyes on student facing teacher in Mike Tomlin vs. Tony Dungy and Ben Roethlisberger squaring off against Peyton Manning for the first time since that all-time classic in the 2005 Divisional Game in Indy.

Despite playing with a separated shoulder, Roethlisberger led his Men of Steel down the field on a 10-play drive that covered 62 yards and ended with Mewelde Moore’s scoring run in from the 1. Just like that, the Heinz Field scoreboard showed the home team leading by a score of 7-0. Peyton Manning then went to work to match the score, but it looked like the drive would end in disaster for the Colts when Ike Taylor leapt in front of the 35-yard pass with an opportunity to intercept. However, Ike tipped the pass up in the air, falling right into the mitts of Reggie Wayne, catching it in stride and gliding into the end zone for the touchdown. With 7:41 left in the first, the score was nodded up at 7-7. With Dwight Freeney strip-sacking Ben on the next series, disaster was averted when No. 7 recovered the loose ball at the black-and-gold 25. Following a tradeoff of punts by both teams, Roethlisberger and Hines Ward connected for a 40-yard gain to the 1, allowing Moore to finish it by plowing into the end zone again. With 13:41 to go before the half, the Steelers led 14-7 and would add another three on a 42-yard field goal by Jeff Reed a few drives later. The next drive showed legend Marvin Harrison dropping a sure touchdown, and legend Troy Polamalu dropping a sure pick six. But the Colts were always good at finishing out halves, and this day was no exception when Ben Roethlisberger threw a bad ball that was intercepted by Keiwan Ratliff at the Steelers 31. Then Manning got the ball to Dallas Clark on a two-yard slant with :09 seconds left and the two Super Bowl winning QBs took their franchises into their respective locker rooms with the Steelers leading by the score of 17-14.

With the second half kickoff going to Indy, Manning drove his white-clad team down to the Steelers 18. This led to an Adam Vinatieri field goal of 36 yards after Harrison dropped another sure six. With the score at 17-all, Roethlisberger drove his team all the way down the field at the end of the third and through the fourth, but Mewelde Moore was stopped twice at the 1 and the Steelers opted for a Jeff Reed field goal and a 20-17 advantage with 7:57 remaining. The Steelers had a chance to ice the game after a Colts punt with 6:13 remaining, But Big Ben threw his second INT of the contest when Tim Jennings stepped in front of Santonio Holmes at the Pittsburgh 38. Manning would need just four plays to hit Dominic Rhodes for the go-ahead score with 3:04 left. No. 7 would rally his team to get down to the 27 with the clock draining, but his heave to Nate Washington was picked off in the end zone but Melvin Bullitt and the Colts prevailed, TheColts won in Pittsburgh for the first time in 40 years, as the Steelers dropped down to 6-3. But this would just be a game of adversity to build upon on the successful road to their 6th Super Bowl Championship.

October 26, 2014 - Steelers 51, Colts 34

The Steelers started out their 2014 like a black and gold yo-yo, alternating between wins and losses in each of their seven contests. With the 5-2 Colts winning their previous five games rolling into town boasting Andrew Luck and the NFL’s No. 1 ranked offense, the odds were in favor of not the Steelers, but a big, fat L for the 4-3 home team sporting their bumblebee throwbacks.

Off to a fast start, Luck (26/45 for 400 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs) hooked up with T.Y. Hilton to victimize Brice McClain on a 45-yard catch-and-run to get down to the enemy 21. But the Steelers defense clamped down and forced an Adam Vinatieri 31-yard field goal. With that kick, Vinatieri became the first player in NFL history to make 200 field goals with two different teams. Looking to join the greats himself, Ben Roethlisberger started his 150th career NFL game, and was looking to join Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, and Tom Brady as the only QBs in NFL history to win their 100th game in 150 starts. The Colts hadn’t allowed a touchdown in the first quarter all season, but that changed with 7:19 left in the first when Markus Wheaton (5 catches for 56 yards, 1 TD) caught an 18-yard pass from No. 7 for a lead that the black and gold would never relinquish.

The explosion continued in the second quarter with Martavis Bryant taking a five-yard pass from Ben to complete a 12-play drive, and William Gay’s 33 Yard pick-six of Luck to take a 21-3 in just :41 seconds. The Colts were scoring machine though, and they weren’t just going to fade into the Western Pennsylvania night. Dwayne Allen would take the Colts’ first trip into the end zone on a 21-yard pass from Luck. The problem was, though, that Antonio Brown hadn’t emerged yet, and it was lethal when AB did. No. 7 led the Steelers down to the Colts 13 midway through the second quarter and were content with a 30-yard Shaun Suisham field goal until Colt Anderson was called for encroachment and a penalty for five. Ben took advantage and threw a 8-yard scoring pass to AB, and following a Colts punt, Brown took a short toss from his QB and dashed 47-yards to glory for a 35-10 lead. The Colts were able to add 10 points by halftime when they were able to retain possession despite a Troy Polamalu strip sack and add a 28-yard Luck-to-T.Y. Hilton (6 catches for 155 yards and 1 TD) collaboration, and a Vinatieri field goal after blocking a Ben Roethlisberger pooch punt with seconds left before intermission. The score going into the locker room was Steelers 35, Colts 20 after a 42-point second quarter.

The next 30 minutes were equally as exciting with the Steelers scoring on an 80-yard drive after the second half kickoff with a Martavis Bryant (7 catches for 83 yards, 2 TDs) touchdown catch from the 2. But then the Men of Steel started to make mistakes. Immediately after Ahmad Bradshaw scored a rushing touchdown from 12-yards out, Darius Heyward-Bey fumbled after a 28-yard catch upon being hit by Darius Butler with Michael Adams recovering. It took only :51 seconds for Luck to locate Donte Moncrief (7 catches for 113 yards, TD) for a 31-yard touchdown grab and the score narrowed to 42-28. It got even more worrisome as LeGarrette Blount fumbled on the enemy 5 and was recovered by Andy Studebaker. But two plays later, Luck was pressured by Arthur Moats and Brett Keisel, fell on his bum, threw it away, and was called for intentional grounding and the safety to make the score Steelers 44, Colts 34 with 12:42 left in the game. The Steelers then went on a 12-play and 7:20 drive that culminated in Big Ben’s record-6th touchdown pass of the game when Heath Miller hauled-in the pass of 11 yards. Luck’s futile attempt to get his team back in it died when Antwon Blake picked-off No. 12 with 2:48 remaining.

It was an epic day for Todd Haley’s offense as Roethlisberger was 40 for 49 with those 6 scoring passes, something he would repeat the very next week against Baltimore. Le’Veon Bell rushed and received for 148 yards total, AB led with 10 catches for 133 yards and 2 TDs, while Heath Miller had seven grabs for 112 yards and a touchdown. James Harrison led on defense with two sacks in a game in which Chuck Pagano’s Colts were heavily favored but couldn’t match the scoring outburst from Mike Tomlin’s club. As both teams left Heinz Field with a record of 5-3.

Don’t count on the Steelers schedule getting any easier over the final seven games

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/28/2022 - 6:00am
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers have a chance to make up some ground over their final seven games...or do they?

The general sentiment regarding the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers at the beginning of the regular season was that, if they could just tread water over the first 10 games or so, they’d be able to do some real damage down the stretch.

The hope for the Steelers just to hang on and not sink became even more pressing following the serious pectoral injury suffered by T.J. Watt late in a Week 1 overtime victory over the Bengals.

Spoiler alert: The Steelers didn’t tread water over the first 10 games. They sunk to the bottom of the Allegheny River (or the AFC North standings, to be less dramatic) and are now 3-7 as they begin the supposedly weak portion of their 2022 matchups.

The final seven games begin with a trip to Indianapolis this week where Pittsburgh will take on the 4-6-1 Colts on Monday Night Football.

After Indy, the Steelers will take on the Falcons, Ravens, Panthers, Ravens, Raiders, and finally, the Browns.

Other than Baltimore (twice), the Steelers opponents should give them a great chance to make up some ground in the standings (and when I say standings, I’m talking about the division, conference, NFL, etc.), no? I mean, the Steelers should be licking their chops, yes?

It’s too bad those other weak teams are saying the same thing about their date with the Steelers.

That starts with Indianapolis this Monday, a team that defeated the Chiefs earlier in the year, almost knocked off the Eagles just last week and is a 2.5-point favorite over Pittsburgh.

Have the Steelers been favored in any game so far in 2022? Will they be favored in any game down the stretch?

The point is this: From this moment forward, every time the Steelers play a team not named the Ravens, that team will look at Pittsburgh much like Pittsburgh looks at it: As a chance to get better.

The fans of each team will feel the same way; it will be like that Spider-Man meme where they’ll point to one another and simultaneously say, “You’re the lesser competition.”

Don’t misunderstand, I do think the Steelers have a chance to win as many games over the final seven matchups as they did over their first 10—three—but I wouldn’t count on many more.

I’m also highly suspicious of the Steelers’ chances to pick up one of those three wins this Monday night vs. a Colts team that, sure, is 25th in offense, but is also fourth in overall defense (Pittsburgh is 27th and 28th in each category, respectively).

3-2: That’s the best I see the Steelers doing against the “lesser competition” on their schedule, and I say that based on their record against such opponents over the first 10 games—they lost to the Browns and Jets before knocking off the Saints at Acrisure Stadium two weeks ago.

Actually, based on that data, my prediction of 3-2 vs. the lesser competition is quite optimistic.

I guess we’ll have to see how it all unfolds once the pointing starts.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 11/28/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

Here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, we are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said and written, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

The Steelers Preview: What to look for when disappointing teams battle

Both the Steelers and the Colts have had a rough go in 2022. What direction are the MNF opponents going in? With Dave Schofield on assignment, join BTSC’s Jeff Hartman and Bryan Anthony Davis in previewing Steelers vs. Colts.

Let’s Ride, Monday: How the Steelers can get back on the winning track

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for a Monday night game vs. the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12, and there is plenty for the Steelers to play for. Jeff Hartman talks about that, his DraftKings Sportsbook parlay and more on the latest episode of “Let’s Ride”.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL/IN/LA/MI/NJ/PA/WV/WY), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (CO/NH), 888-789-7777/visit http://ccpg.org/chat (CT), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), 877-8-HOPENY/text HOPENY (467369) (NY), visit OPGR.org (OR), call/text TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN), or 1-888-532-3500 (VA).

21+ (18+ NH/WY). Physically present in AZ/CO/CT/IL/IN/IA/LA(select parishes)/MI/NH/NJ/NY/OR/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. See terms at sportsbook.draftkings.com

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Steelers Winners and Losers from the home opener in the Iron City
  • and MUCH MORE!

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

NFL Week 12: Late games news, updates and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/27/2022 - 3:00pm
Set Number: X162332 TK1

Time to settle in for some NFL football with the Steelers playing on MNF in Week 12.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are not playing on Sunday in Week 12 since they don’t square off until they travel to play the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football, so don’t pretend like you won’t be watching some other games as the day progresses. With that being said, why not watch the games with some of your fellow black-and-gold faithful!

Here is the upcoming slate of games for your viewing enjoyment:

What games will you be watching? Either way, be sure to enjoy the live chat below, and don’t forget to stay glued to BTSC throughout the game for the best, most in-depth, analysis surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for their 11th game of the season.

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

NFL Week 12: Early games news, updates and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/27/2022 - 11:45am
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Time to settle in for some NFL football with the Steelers playing on MNF in Week 12.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are not playing on Sunday in Week 12 since they don’t square off until they travel to play the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football, so don’t pretend like you won’t be watching some other games as the day progresses. With that being said, why not watch the games with some of your fellow black-and-gold faithful!

Here is the upcoming slate of games for your viewing enjoyment:

  • Texans at Dolphins
  • Bengals at Titans
  • Broncos at Panthers
  • Ravens at Jaguars
  • Buccaneers at Browns
  • Bears at Jets
  • Broncos at Panthers
  • Falcons at Washington

What games will you be watching? Either way, be sure to enjoy the live chat below, and don’t forget to stay glued to BTSC throughout the game for the best, most in-depth, analysis surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for their 11th game of the season.

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

As a Steelers fan, sometimes I forget when I’m supposed to be outraged

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/27/2022 - 10:30am

With a fine line between success and failure, I sometimes forget when things are supposed to be fine and when the sky is falling.

It’s been a rough season for Pittsburgh Steelers fans. With a record of 3-7, the worst record the team has had this late in a season for a long time, there hasn’t been a lot to cheer about. Additionally, the Steelers are playing their 11th game this week and have only been favored to win one time all season, which they didn’t. If there were any fans still holding out that this was not a rebuild season, I think they are becoming much more scarce.

When the team isn’t doing well, there’s often talk of what’s bringing them down. Whether it be turnovers, lack of production from the offense, the sporadic greatness from the defense, or blaming one of a variety of coaches, there is plenty that Steelers fans have been enraged about. And when it gets into the play-by-play action, there are tons of things which enrages Steelers’ Nation because of how things are being done.

The biggest problem I’m having right now is figuring out when I’m supposed to be outraged like a good fan, and when I’m supposed to be okay with what’s going on. As the Steelers headed into their bye week, I was supposed to be an outraged fan calling for half the coaching staff to be fired and replaced instantly. A consolation prize would be simply the replacement of offensive coordinator Matt Canada, but that didn’t even happen. As I settled in for my Canada outrage for the rest of the season, it didn’t come in Week 10 as the Steelers offense didn’t turn the ball over, or even punt the ball in the second half of the game as they were victorious over the New Orleans Saints. Then to start Week 11, the Steelers scored 20 points in a half with 10 points coming in the final two minutes. I was ready to go with squashing the Canada hate only for the Steelers to ultimately lose a game in which they scored 30 points and surrendered 37, once again get back to saying that Canada has no business being employed by an NFL team.

I also get confused when it comes to judging the decisions in regards to play calling. I’m outraged at the jet sweep action, but am I supposed to care when they go for 10 yards, or more? Am I still supposed to be outraged?

I’m also supposed to be upset about the Steelers not running the ball enough and asking a rookie quarterback to pass too much, but apparently on second down is when it’s never supposed to happen. Hold on, I need to correct that. It’s on second and long when it’s never supposed to happen. But I’m also confused because if the Steelers always run the ball on second and long I don’t understand how for the season on second down when they’ve had 8 yards to go or more the Steelers have passed on 79 plays and rushed on 39 plays. Also, if it’s one of the 17 running plays on second long where the Steelers rushed for 5 yards or more, am I supposed to be outraged as they hand of the ball off? Does the result of the play matter if it was a good decision to run the play or not? I’m struggling with being really confused.

From the moment the play was run, I was not in favor of the Steelers running a flea flicker after they finally achieved a first down in the second half against Cincinnati which didn’t happen until the fourth quarter. With the Steelers rushing to the line, they ran a very unconventional play that looked disconnected from the very beginning. I thought that was a terrible place to run in that moment when they were trying to go hurry up as it didn’t seem very natural. But if the pitch from Harris is a little more on point and Kenny Pickett throws the ball quickly for a nice gain, was it still a terrible call?

I guess what I’m struggling with the most is if the outrage of the decision before the play is actually based on that decision or if it’s completely dependent on the outcome. If a pass goes off of a player’s fingertips, was it still a bad decision to run the play or was it one that would have worked in that moment if it was executed better? If a wide receiver makes a phenomenal catch, does it suddenly make it the right call or did they simply overcome what was happening?

I know I’m asking a lot of questions, but I seriously don’t know where to focus my outrage. At this point, I’m more outraged at not knowing where to be outraged. Maybe that’s where I should be as a Steelers fan at this point.

Here is where I’m ultimately concerned: I see a situation arising for the Steelers this season, possibly as soon as Monday night, when the team is down by a point and lining up for a 48-yard field goal with 0:03 left in the game. If that kick goes one foot inside the uprights I’m supposed to be ecstatic and all is good in the world as the Steelers found a way to win, but if that ball goes one foot outside the upright everyone should be fired, benched, and the whole thing should be started over by the next game.

I am frustrated that I have to wait for the kick to know how I’m supposed to feel. If the coaches all need fired and the players need benched, I don’t think a 2-foot difference in a kick at the end of game should be the difference between genius and incompetence. It seems a bit much in both directions.

Maybe the answer is somewhere in the middle. That’s probably where it lies before the kicker’s foot strikes the ball, so the result of said kick probably shouldn’t be the ultimate deciding factor. But since it decides who wins and who loses, that’s where all my emotions will ride.

If this scenario plays out this season, and if that kick misses, somebody better be fired. In fact, fire them before they snap the ball.

A Letter From the Editor: I’m a fan, nothing more, and that’s okay

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/27/2022 - 9:00am
Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

A trip down memory lane helped me realize where I am, and should stay.

“Stay in your lane.”

This comment can be said in a variety of ways. It can be made in a vehicle as other drivers might be leaving their lane without a signal. It also could be said to someone who is venturing out of their comfort level and into a place they might not really belong.

When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers, I know where I belong, and I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.

No, I’m not talking about being the guy in charge here at BTSC, I’m talking about how I cover the team.

The NFL/sports landscape is covered with so-called experts. People who watch All-22 film, try to diagnose plays and nit-pick plays to help fill a narrative. There are some who are tremendous at this skill, and others who do nothing but provide fans with an opinion which doesn’t truly exist. Sure, you might see some basic Cover 2 principles on a particular defensive play, but do you really know everyone’s assignment on that given play?

I don’t, and that’s okay.

This past weekend over the Thanksgiving holiday my family met at my brother’s house in Richmond. As my mother does often, she arrived with a canvas bag filled with “stuff” for my brother and me to go through. The “stuff” in the bag was about 15 folders of school work which was saved throughout my elementary and middle school years.

This put me in a lose-lose situation. Keep some of the “stuff”, and my wife wonders why I’m bringing junk into the house. Throw it all away and my mother feels slighted for me not showing the same level of appreciation for her ability to save my stuff all those years.

I ended up keeping some of the stuff she sent, class pictures and stuff like that, but I did get the opportunity to read through every single thing my mom saved with my mother sitting next to me. It was a fun experience as we looked back at some of the things I did during my formative years.

One assignment stood out to me, and it was a letter assignment in my 4th grade language arts class. We simple had to write a letter to someone. Who did I write my letter to? Pittsburgh Steelers running back Barry Foster. I wrote about how much I enjoyed watching the Steelers play, how great his season was thus far, and how I wished him luck for the rest of the season. Oh, I also asked him for an autograph.

After reading this article I realized the foreshadowing of that “letter” and these “letters” I write to the fan base every Sunday the Steelers don’t play a game. What I also realized was how I’ve always just been a fan. Not an expert, just a fan. My football experience, and therefore expertise, stopped after middle school, and while I’ve always watched the NFL I am not someone who is able to give tangible evidence for why teams do, or don’t, succeed.

This isn’t to suggest anyone who hasn’t played at a high level can’t be more of an expert than me, we have some who are more than qualified here at this very website, but I realized I live in the fan narrative. I live in the commentary realm, and that’s okay. I don’t pretend to be something I’m not, probably because I’ve never wanted to be anything more than a fan. It’s the reason I only lasted a month away from BTSC at an accredited website. I didn’t want to hang up my “fan” hat. It’s what I’ve always been, and what I’ll always be.

For me, I’m just going to stay in my lane...it’s the best for all parties involved.

George Pickens not fined after penalty and ejection in Week 11

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/27/2022 - 7:30am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver was ejected from the Week 11 game vs. the Bengals, but wasn’t fined for the play.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were losers in Week 11 after they were beaten 37-30 by the Cincinnati Bengals at Acrisure Stadium. In the waning moments of the 4th quarter, after the Steelers scored to make it a one score game, Pittsburgh lined up for the onsides kick.

With rule changes, these plays rarely work anymore, and the ball didn’t bounce in the Steelers’ favor as Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd came down with the football. What ensued after was rookie wide receiver George Pickens coming down on Boyd’s helmet with his own helmet.

The play didn’t just draw a personal foul penalty, but had Pickens ejected from the game. The Bengals took a knee in the victory formation and iced out the clock, but it was widely viewed that Pickens would be fined for his part in the end of the game scrum.

As it is being reported by Steelers beat writers, like the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Brian Batko, Pickens wasn’t fined for his part in the altercation.

Check out the tweet, which includes video of the play, below:

Steelers rookie WR George Pickens was not fined by the league for his ejection last week after this play at the end of the Bengals game, per source. He said Thursday there was nothing really his coaches had to tell him because it didn’t impact the result. pic.twitter.com/OEMMXxQhWV

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) November 26, 2022

Pickens had said earlier this week how the coaching staff didn’t feel the need to say anything to him, considering it didn’t impact the outcome of the game. Throw in the fact the league didn’t take away some of Pickens’ money and it makes you wonder if the league didn’t see the play as egregious as the officials on the field did last Sunday.

Nonetheless, Pickens will have to learn to control himself, his emotions, moving forward as the book will be out on the rookie receiver and him potentially losing his cool. If Pickens can keep calm in these type of situations, you will see just how talented a player he is/can be. Kenny Pickett said he is the best athlete he’s ever seen play any sport, and other veterans have also taken note to what he can do on the field.

In the meantime, let’s hope Pickens can keep his cool in Week 12 and beyond, so he can remain on the field and continue to make game-changing plays for the black-and-gold.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the regular season, mainly the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12 on Monday Night Football.

Distribution Map: What games will you get to see in Week 12?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/27/2022 - 6:00am

The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t play in Week 12 till Monday night, so what games will you see Sunday?

The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t play until Monday night in Week 12, and a lot of fans will be glued to their televisions to watch as much NFL football as possible during the Sunday without Steelers football on.

So, what games will you get to see in your area? Let’s take a look based on both the early/late slate, who has the double header and where you reside.

Let’s take a look, maps courtesy of 506 Sports:

CBS Single

RED: Bengals at Titans
BLUE: Chargers at Cardinals (LATE)
GREEN: Raiders at Seahawks (LATE)
YELLOW: Ravens at Jaguars

FOX Early

RED: Buccaneers at Browns
BLUE: Bears at Jets
GREEN: Falcons at Washington
YELLOW: Broncos at Panthers

FOX Late

RED: Rams at Chiefs
BLUE: Saints at 49ers

So, what games will you get to see on Sunday? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes leading up to the big game!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

Have a BAD Week: A look back at the Steelers week from a black-and-gold mind

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/27/2022 - 5:30am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

BTSC’s random-thought renegade is back with his bizarre look at the Steelers week that was.

The Steelers are 3-7 and lots of things are going on with the Men of Steel coming off of a soul-crushing loss to Cincy. Let’s all take a look at the week in the ‘burgh together.

Sunday 11/20

A week after having his appendix removed, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is officially active and good to go vs. Bengals.

Steelers inactives. QB Mason Rudolph, CB Josh Jackson, CB Ahkello Witherspoon, G Kendrick Green
and LB Mark Robinson null

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 20, 2022

I hate the fact that either the team or the player rushed Minkah back. It didn’t help the team on the field whatsoever.

A tale of two halves equates in another #Steelers loss...

FINAL: Second half Steelers struggles result in 37-30 loss to Bengals https://t.co/uaYg1xDPED

— Jeff Hartman (@JHartman_PIT) November 21, 2022

Well, there goes the redemption angle. To the pessimists, go the bragging rights.

Talked with La’el Collins about his performance against T.J Watt today.

How did Collins feel about his rematch?

“T-J knew he had to line up against me. So, s—, you know, at the end of the day, he was crying to the refs. (Laughter). So, I’ll see him again next year.”

— Mohammad Ahmad (@MohammadAhmadTV) November 21, 2022

Collins best block of the night was when he fell like a bumbling drunk on T.J. to save Joe Burrow. He has scoreboard, so I get it. But Watt is definitey not a crybaby. Mr. Collins...see below.

Monday 11/21

“We knew what they were going to do. They like to do the same plays over and over." - the #Bengals’ Germaine Pratt, on the #Steelers offense.
@BryanDeArdo⁩ is as positive as one can be about the PIT offense and yet… https://t.co/EqU4WZNOyz

— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) November 21, 2022

This is not original thought, Mr. Pratt. A more original thought would be “water is wet”, “the sky is blue” and “never trust a fart”.

Center Mason Cole walked through the locker room briefly with a short boot on his right foot. He injured it in the first half of yesterday’s loss.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 21, 2022

Here’s the reason this is disconcerting, Mason Cole is playing fantastic at center for the Steelers.

Tuesday 11/22

.@highsmith34 is the #Steelers nominee for the eighth annual Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, presented annually to a player for their on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition.https://t.co/FFjRjPeSP4

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 22, 2022

Highsmith has been a bright spot for this franchise since Day 1.

Wednesday 11/23

Steelers bring back Master Teague to the practice squad https://t.co/vWJ5an3tFc

— Dave Schofield (@STLRSuperFanDad) November 23, 2022

This is great to see the Ohio State alum get another chance with the Steelers. After “Print”, “Blaster”, and “s of the Universe”, Teague is my favorite Master.

T.J. Watt tops the Steelers defensive Pro Football Focus grades https://t.co/hq3NIKO2xn

— Dave Schofield (@STLRSuperFanDad) November 23, 2022

He’s that damn good, friends.

#Steelers players are doing their part to make Thanksgiving special for those in the Pittsburgh community. https://t.co/1uM0N9L4SJ

— Steelers Community Relations (@SteelersCR) November 23, 2022

The Steelers take community pride seriously. Nice job, gents.

Thursday 11/24

Happy Thanksgiving! pic.twitter.com/30UE0jKr6G

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 24, 2022

Happy Turkey Day to you and yours.

A look at player injuries & practice participation for Week 12. @UPMCSportsMedhttps://t.co/8v8U20KJIc

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 24, 2022

Not having Mason Cole and Jaylen Warren was a big deal in the Cincinnati game. Can their status improve by Monday? Here’s hoping.

'Me and Kenny have been cool the whole time. We have been connected since he had his opportunity. Now it's just sustaining it.' - George Pickens on his relationship with fellow rookie Kenny Pickett

: https://t.co/VY6rXoa3tA pic.twitter.com/LX9fp3zjl1

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) November 24, 2022

These guys have chemistry. But so did I with my 11th grade lab partner in chemistry before I accidentily set the paper towels on fire.

Friday 11/25

'Making sure we're on the same page. Just finishing games. I think sometimes we have good plays here, good plays there. But it's about putting a consistent performance throughout the entire game.' - @CamHeyward

: https://t.co/VY6rXoa3tA pic.twitter.com/mDmHWs04mI

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) November 25, 2022

Complete games are good. Adjustments are good. Getting cute on offense after finally having a good half is not good.

This was the significant week that was for the Steelers, mixed-in with my black-and-gold loving life. I’m sure next week will be full of Steelers happenings as well, so we’ll have to do this again. Have a great week, but better yet, have a BAD one.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 11/27/2022 - 5:00am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

Steelers 2022 is ongoing and we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest two podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said or typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

Steelers Touchdown Under: Can the 2022 season really get better for the Steelers?

It’s Week 12 of the NFL season, which means the 3-7 Steelers are taking on the Indianapolis Colts, after losing to AFC North rivals the Bengals. Have the Steelers come close to finding a winning a formula down the second-half stretch? Can the offense continue to do enough to win games? Can the Steelers’ defense do enough to help the fledgling offense? Join Matty Peverell and Mark Davison as they answer these questions and more, while providing a global perspective to how the Steelers can achieve success in their chase for a seventh Lombardi, in this latest episode of ‘Touchdown Under’ - BTSC’s Australian sensation.

Rundown:

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • Are the 2022 Steelers too far gone?

Listen to the show on the player below:

Tune into the latest episode of Touchdown Under, the Australian sensation from the BTSC family of podcasts.

We Run the North: What holiday football means to us

Get ready for Kevin Tate and the We Run the North crew as @tateboyfresh, Brandon “B-Dirt” Herriott, and Pay Saunders talking about what Thanksgiving & football means to them and break down this week’s AFC North matchups and the rest of the leagues games along with Pay’s Parlay and B-Dirt Doin’em Dirty segments. Join Tate and the guys before Week 12 for the Browns, Bengals, Ravens and Steelers.

Rundown:

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • AFC North Happenings
  • .Thanksgiving games
  • Week 12 Pick’em
  • Pay’s Parlay
  • Doin’em Dirty

Listen to the show on the player below:

Last Minute Thoughts before the Steelers meet Indy in Week 12

There’s always a lot of material rolling trough a Steelers fan’s cranium on game day. What’s the injury report telling us? Did something happen that I missed? Am I going to even see the game in my broadcast area? What’s the line if I want to bet my mortgage on the game? At BTSC, we’re no different. Join BTSC with our last minute thoughts as you prepare to wave that Terrible Towel. This week, Dave Schofield gives his last minute thoughts right before the Steelers contest against the Indianapolis Colts.

Rundown:

  • Last Minute Thoughts before Steelers vs. the Colts
  • Injury Report
  • Lines
  • How to watch

Listen to the show on the player below:

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Saturday Night Open Thread: Turkey Coma Edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 11/26/2022 - 6:00pm
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Time for another Saturday meeting of the black-and-gold minds!

There is no quitting, no white flag of surrender! When someone needs to step in, you just do the thing!

That’s why I’m filling in for the Saturday night open thread! I don’t have a ton of time, so let’s get to the questions!

1 - Of all the Pittsburgh Steelers team needs, what trumps your list heading into Week 12?

2 - When it comes to the success of the Steelers, what do you deem a successful season?

3 - Who was your favorite Steeler of all-time, and why?

4 - Prediction time: How many points will the Steelers score vs. Indy on MNF?

5 - What is the best thing to do with leftover turkey?? Recipes/ideas welcome!!

Okay, have at it, and HERE WE GO STEELERS!

Steelers Injury Report: 2 players ruled out, 2 more questionable for Monday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 11/26/2022 - 1:42pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Only two players missed practice Saturday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are once again trying to get back on the winning track, this time on the road in Indianapolis for Monday Night Football. As the Steelers took the practice field for their final official day of preparation for the Colts, there were two players who did not participate while three were limited. In the final injury report of the week courtesy of the Steelers PR Department, two players have been ruled out while two others are questionable.

Steelers PR Department

In Sunday’s game, Jaylen Warren played only three offensive snaps before entering his hamstring and being ruled out for the game. In Tuesday’s press conference, Coach Tomlin said Warren‘s hamstring injury wasn’t significant but could still keep him out of the lineup. On Thursday and Friday, Warren was unable to take the practice field. Saturday saw Warren missing practice again and he has been ruled out for Monday’s game.

Another player who was unable to finish last Sunday’s game was center Mason Cole with a foot injury. On Thursday, Cole was unable to practice in his first opportunity. With another chance to get on the practice field on Friday, Cole progressed to be a limited participant. On Saturday, Cole was a full participant and carries no injury status for Monday’s game.

The third player injured in the Steelers previous game was wide receiver Miles Boykin who was missed in his role as a gunner on special teams. Dealing with an oblique injury, Boykin missed the first official practice of the week. Things were progressing in a positive manner as Boykin returned in a limited fashion on Friday, but on Saturday Boykin was limited again and is questionable for Monday’s game.

After coming back to play in Week 8 after missing multiple games, Ahkello Witherspoon found himself missing another two games with his hamstring injury in Week 10 and Week 11. On both Thursday and Friday, Witherspoon was still unable to practice. Once again, Witherspoon did not practice on Saturday and has been ruled out for Monday’s game.

There were three players who did not practice on Thursday that were designated as rest and not being injury related. Those players were Cam Heyward, T.J. Watt, and Larry Ogunjobi. As expected, all three players returned as full participants on Friday. Saturday saw two of the three players participating fully again with a Larry Ogunjobi being limited with a toe injury. On a positive note, none of them carry an injury status for Monday.

As for the new names on the list from Friday, Connor Heyward did not participate in practice on Friday due to illness. Two other players on the list were Robert Spillane with a back injury and James Daniels with a groin injury as both players were listed as limited participants. Both Heyward and Daniels returned as full participants on Saturday with no injury designation while Robert Spillane was once again limited and is questionable for Monday’s game.

As for the Colts’ injury report, you can see the names below when available.

Kenny Pickett now faces the challenge of getting the football to all the Steelers’ weapons

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 11/26/2022 - 12:00pm
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The rookie quarterback knows he has to spread the football around to all the Steelers’ playmakers.

Being a starting quarterback in the NFL isn’t an easy task. The game moves a million miles an hour, and decisions must be made in a split second. If you happen to be a rookie quarterback, you can only imagine the pressure on you every time you snap the football. The decision making aspect of the position is enough to make your head spin, but when it comes to keeping your teammates happy it throws in an all new wrinkle into the equation.

For Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, he is getting more comfortable with the role he has with his team; however, he is learning if you don’t get everyone involved it can lead to disgruntled teammates and not-so-friendly headlines.

The player Pickett hasn’t been able to get the ball to, who was often targeted with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, is Dionate Johnson. Johnson has struggled to get into a rhythm with Pickett, and, according to the rookie, it is because of how the defense is playing the Pro Bowl receiver.

“If he’s getting doubled, man, it’s tough to get him the ball, and they know how great of a player he is.” Pickett said. “So, I think if we move him around and don’t keep him in the same spot, I think that’s a way to get him some more opportunities.”

When asked if the opposing defense is scheming to take Johnson out of the game, Pickett agreed wholeheartedly.

“100 percent.” said Pickett. “Yeah, if they’re playing man with a safety overtop leaning to his side or they’re clouding a lot to his side, they’re definitely scheming to take him away.”

Johnson has visibly shown frustration during games if the targets to come his way, but he never yells on the sideline or pouts. He simply wants to make sure he and Pickett are still on the same page.

“He’s a smart player. We’ll come off the field and he’s like, “They were over the top,” or, “They’re doubling them up.” So, he knows, and he’s a great player and he wants to help us win. We’ll get him in some spots to be successful.”

This is when the pressure is on a quarterback to not force passes to a player like Johnson, but to spread the football around. And it isn’t as if Pickett doesn’t have other weapons at his disposal on almost every play. One of those weapons, who he has a strong connection with thus far, is fellow rookie George Pickens.

“He’s a great receiver. We talk all the time about how he’s evolving into a complete receiver and doing more things and running different routes and having a full route tree that corners have to deal with. You become a lot tougher to cover when you have all different ways that you can go and you’re not just a deep ball threat, which he’s not. He does a lot of great of things for us at intermediate level. I think as his game continues to grow, we’ll continue to grow as an offense.

“He’s the best athlete probably that I’ve played with. Just the freak things that he does, the catches he makes that are so nonchalant to him, but I kind of look around like, “I’ve never seen that before in my life.” He’s a unique guy that can do a lot of great things. We’ve just got to continue to get him the football.”

With the Steelers trading Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears, you’d think getting the ball to Johnson and/or Pickens would be enough, but it isn’t. You have to also throw in tight end Pat Freiermuth as another viable weapon who is worthy of more targets.

Pickett knows what kind of asset it is to have someone like Freiermuth on top of players like Johnson and Pickens.

“That’s kind of the game that defenses have to play. Who are you going to take away? Where am I going to be going with the football with the guys that we have? My job is to read the defense and get the guy that’s open, so that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

Many people who have played football at a high level will tell you how some pass catchers will come off the field and say they are always open. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s up to the quarterback to decipher how to not just spread the football around but also to get it to the player with the best matchups.

Pickett has shown a willingness to do so, and it has led to decreased targets for Johnson. Will this trend continue? If it does, but the Steelers win, all is well. But if the Steelers don’t target Johnson and they lose, you can expect to hear more about how the high priced receiver probably needs more targets coming his way.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12 on Monday Night Football.

NFL Draft Preview: Are future Steelers playing in THE GAME?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 11/26/2022 - 10:30am
Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Steelers fans should keep an eye on these NFL Draft prospects in the Michigan vs. Ohio State rivalry!

The 2023 NFL Draft is still months in the distance, but with college football having arrived, the beginning stages of the 2023 draft process has begun. With that in mind, it is time to dive into this week’s biggest games in the college football world, taking a look at potential Steelers draft targets to pay attention to during their respective games.

Offensive line is definitely an area the Steelers need to address, and the most likely resource for the solution is indeed the draft. Concerns at cornerback and linebacker also loom large over the Pittsburgh’s head. Although we will certainly break down prospects at other positions this season as well, these will be the primary positions of emphasis.

Nearly every week during the season, there are several highlight games that steal the headlines, but even when these games overshadow the rest of the college football landscape, we will not be negligent of the other games and prospects in action. Every week during the season, we will recap the previous week’s action and determine whose stock rose the most as it pertains to the NFL Draft.

This week, we are focusing solely on the perhaps the greatest rivalry in all of sports: “The Game.” This year’s rendition of Michigan vs. Ohio State will be taking place at the toilet bow... I mean, the ’shoe. Both teams have dealt with significant injuries in the backfield, and the health of both teams’ running backs may determine the fate of the game.

For this week’s draft preview, we are going to rank the top 10 players to watch in this game from a Steelers perspective. All ten of these prospects could potentially be a fit for the Steelers, but keep a special eye on the names at the top of this list, as their draft stock and position both fit what the Steelers have and need when the draft rolls around.

As always, be sure to share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, but without further adieu, here are the top prospects to keep an eye on in THE GAME!!!

1. DJ Turner | CB | Michigan |

If Turner can slow down freshman phenom Marvin Harrison, Jr., his stock will be firmly inside the first round. The Steelers need corners, and Turner's aggressiveness would fit Teryl Austin's defense.

2. Paris Johnson, Jr. | OT | Ohio State |

Johnson has not faced a ton of elite pass rushers this season, but he has been a steady presence along the offensive line. Strong testing at the combine could make him the OT1 in this draft.

3. Mazi Smith | NT | Michigan |

Tyson Alualu's NFL days are about numbed, and Montravius Adams is best suited as a rotational backup. Smith is insanely athletic, and he could give the Steelers a true Casey Hampton type at tackle.

4. Olusegun Oluwatimi | C | Michigan

Oluwatimi is a transfer from Virginia who has been one of the catalysts of Michigan's running success. While not the strongest lineman, Oluwatimi is a solid athlete who moves well in space. Consider him a likely Day 2 pick as of now.

5. Ryan Hayes | OT | Michigan |

Keep an eye on Hayes when faced against sophomore stud J.T. Tuimoloau. Tuimoloau is a legit top-10 prospect in the 2024 class, and he has every athletic gift needed to dominate. If contained, the talented Michigan tackle could find his way into the later portions of Round 1.

6. Luke Wypler | C | Ohio State |

There is no guarantee Wypler declares this year, but he has a chance to prove himself Saturday, likely facing Mazi Smith for the majority of the game. Wypler may lack Smith's size, but he makes up for his slightly undersized frame with great technique, balance, and hand usage.

7. Zak Zinter | G | Michigan |

Zinter is not coming off the greatest of performances, but he has an opportunity to erase last week's game with a good one against Ohio State's talented defensive line. Zinter is a solid run blocker, but he gets in trouble when his pads are too high. I currently have an early Day 3 grade on him.

8. Lathan Ransom | CB | Ohio State |

Ransom's biggest concerns come in the area of speed, but he could make sense for a zone-heavy defense when used correctly. Michigan's receivers have not done well at creating separation this season, giving Ransom a prime opportunity to succeed.

9. Mike Morris | EDGE | Michigan

Morris is a legitimate top-50 prospect, but regardless of Alex Highsmith's future with the team, EDGE simply is not a top team need. Thus, he falls down the list to number nine.

10. Zach Harrison | EDGE | Michigan

It has been a rough season for Harrison, but he is coming off his best game of the season against Maryland. His stock will most definitely rise if he can have success against Michigan's strong offensive line.

Which Michigan and Ohio State prospects would you like to see on the Steelers in 2023? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and be sure to chime in throughout the day as we soak in an excellent rivalry weekend!

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