INDIANAPOLIS – A capsule look at the Colts' opponent this week, the Pittsburgh Steelers of the AFC North.
Synopsis: Last Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts were defeated, 27-19, by the Cleveland Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium, leaving the Colts as the lone team without a victory in the AFC South.
Conversely, Pittsburgh was able to earn its first win of the 2011 season, trouncing the Seahawks, 24-0, and moving into a four-way tie atop the AFC North.
Indianapolis will be tasked with knocking off the defending AFC Champions from last season in a prime-time matchup, as the two teams square off on Sunday night on NBC Sports.
Pittsburgh has gotten the best of the Colts in the all-time series, 18-6, and will look to improve upon that mark when they travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts on Sunday. However, Indianapolis has won the last two regular season matchups between the teams, and will hope to extend that streak.
Although the Steelers were defeated, 35-7, in week one against the Baltimore Ravens, Head Coach Mike Tomlin and company were able to bounce back with an impressive victory over the Seahawks in week two.
The stout Pittsburgh defense limited Seattle to 164 yards of total offense and kept constant pressure on Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, recording five sacks.
Ben Roethlisberger led the offensive attack for the Steelers, throwing for 298 yards and one touchdown on 22-of-30 passing. He was aided by the phenomenal play of standout wide receiver Mike Wallace.
Wallace has established himself as one of the most explosive players in the NFL and against Seattle, he recorded eight receptions for 126 yards and one touchdown. On the season, Wallace has 233 receiving yards and one touchdown on 16 receptions.
Although stopping a potent offense led by Roethlisberger and Wallace will be a tough task, much of the concern for the Colts will be placed on figuring out how to attack this formidable defensive unit.
Against the Browns, Indianapolis struggled to turn quality drives into touchdowns, settling for four field goals on the day, and the club did not have much more luck converting third downs (4-of-14).
Quarterback Kerry Collins understands that the team must find a way to be more efficient, and the road to success starts on the practice field.
"I think execution is probably the biggest thing," said Collins. "In my experiences, the only way that you get better at something is to put an emphasis on it during the week, and try to correct the mistakes that seemed to be holding you back in that area. Like I said, there's some really good things that we did, but we have to get better at staying on the field."
*2011 Record: *1-1, Tied-1st in AFC North.
*Head Coach: *Mike Tomlin, fifth season as Steelers and NFL Head Coach (44-22).
*Last game: *Following a loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers hosted the Seattle Seahawks at Heinz Field. Led by an all-around performance from the defense, the Steelers were able to shutout the Seahawks, 24-0, and move into a four-way tie in the AFC North. After getting out to a 17-0 lead at halftime, Pittsburgh forced the Seahawks to play catch-up throughout the entire game. The Steelers recorded five sacks and six passes defensed in the contest, and limited Seattle to 2-of-12 (17%) on third-down conversions and a 3.5 average gain per offensive play.
*2011 NFL Rankings: *Offense – Overall, 13th (366.5); Rushing, 20th (95.0); Passing, T-9th (271.5); Defense – Overall, 2nd (274.5); Rushing, 12th (100.5); Passing, T-4th (174.0).
*2011 Leading Passer: *Ben Roethlisberger (44-71 comp., 578 yards, 62.0 pct., 2 TDs, 3 INT, 79.4 rating).
*2011 Leading Rusher: *Rashard Mendenhall (31 carries, 111 yards, 1 TD).
*2011 Leading Receiver: *Mike Wallace (16 receptions, 233 yards, 1 TD).
2011 Leading Sacker: LaMarr Woodley (1.5).
2011 Turnover Breakdown: -7 (Tied 31st).
First-round draft choice: Cameron Heyward, defensive lineman. With the 31st overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Steelers selected Cameron Heyward, a defensive end from Ohio State University.
Heyward (6-5, 288), earned first-team All-Big Ten Conference honors, and was the recipient of the Bill Willis Award, given by the Ohio State coaches to the team's Outstanding Defensive Player. He was also a Lombardi Award semi-finalist, and a Lott Trophy quarter-finalist.
*2010 Review: *The Pittsburgh Steelers came within one victory of adding a seventh Super Bowl trophy to their collection, before falling to the Green Bay Packers at Cowboys Stadium, 31-25.
Pittsburgh started off the 2010 season quickly, jumping out to a 3-0 record before falling to Baltimore in week four. The Steelers would not lose consecutive games throughout the season, finishing 12-4 and winning the AFC North.
Pittsburgh defeated Baltimore, 31-24, in the Divisional Playoffs, and then they topped the New York Jets, 24-19, to advance to Super Bowl XLV.
Last time in Playoffs: L, 25-31 in Super Bowl XLV (2011).
*Last time in Super Bowl: *2011.
*Super Bowl Championships: *Six (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 2005, 2008).
*2010 Pro Bowl Selections: *James Harrison LB; Brett Keisel DL; Troy Polamalu S; Maurkice Pouncey C.
Quotable I: On the defense:
"They have been calling this defense 'old' since I was in college and they are still calling them 'old' now. In this sport when is defense at the right age? When has that ever been the case? It's always, 'They are too old, or too young.' There is never a 'just right' in this league. Pittsburgh is a team that has always had veteran players, and we always seem to prove everybody wrong by getting back to the Super Bowl."
--- Steelers Linebacker LaMarr Woodley
Quotable II: On the victory over the Seahawks, 24-0:
"That's our team, what you saw (Sunday). That's who we are. We didn't display that against Baltimore."
--- Steelers Wide Receiver Hines Ward to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette