Rhodes' 17-Yard Touchdown Reception Gives Colts 24-20 Victory in Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Dominic Rhodes lost it in the lights.
And when he saw the football again, when the game-winning touchdown pass settled softly into his hands, just as the Colts' veteran backup running back said he knew it would . . .
Well, Rhodes said he hasn't seen many sights much better.
"The light was in my eyes – kind of like this one right here," Rhodes said, peering into the lights of a television camera minutes after his 17-yard touchdown reception gave the Colts a 24-20 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field Sunday afternoon.
"I just saw the ball at the end. I put my hands up where I thought it might be and I said, 'Man, I have to make this catch.'''
Because he did, the Colts beat the Steelers and stayed in pack of teams fighting for playoff positioning in a tightly-contested AFC.
On the game-winning touchdown, Manning said the Colts ran a play-action fake of a stretch running play that long has been a base play of their offense. Rhodes said a Steelers defender appeared to follow eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Marvin Harrison toward the middle of the field.
At that point, Rhodes said he ran as fast as he could toward the end zone.
"It was a great play by Rhodes," Manning said of his third touchdown pass of the game. "Dominic made a great play. Credit to him for being there."
Said Rhodes, "I could see a little bit of it through the light. Once it got down far enough, it fell where I wanted it to fall, in my hands. P (Manning) throws some good balls, and if you put your hands up there, most of the time, it's going to fall right in there. That's what happened.
"I pulled it down and made a play for our team."
Rhodes' play was the final one of what Manning said was a day on which the Colts' offense had to work had for whatever it produced. Two of the Colts' touchdowns came on drives of 32 and 30 yards, respectively, with Rhodes' game-winner coming on a drive of 32 yards after an interception by cornerback Tim Jennings.
Indianapolis finished with 290 total yards and converted nine of 17 third downs. Manning was sacked twice for minus-12 yards and was not intercepted.
The Colts' first touchdown came on a 65-yard pass to wide receiver Reggie Wayne, with Wayne catching the ball after it was tipped by Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor.
"Everything you get against these guys you have to earn," Manning said. "We got in a lot of 3rd-and-longs. Those were tough to convert. The ones we did convert were tight."
Said Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy, "There were going to be times when we got some. We finally got one to Dominic. We got them into coverage that we got him isolated and got the game-winner. It was going to be that type of day and I thought our guys hung in there mentally pretty good."
MAKING THEIR STAND: With the score tied 17-17 midway through the fourth quarter, the Steelers had a chance to take a one-touchdown lead.
It didn't happen.
The Colts' defense – and particularly rookie defensive tackle Eric Foster – made certain of it.
Taking possession late in the third quarter, the Steelers moved patiently toward the end zone, and after a nine-yard run by running back Mewelde Moore, they faced 1st-and-goal at the Colts 5.
Three plays later, kicker Josh Reed kicked a 24-yard field goal to give the Steelers a three-point lead.
But in between, the Colts had one of their more impressive defensive stands of the season.
First, safety Antoine Bethea tackled Moore at the Indianapolis 1 to set up 2nd-and-goal from the 1, and one play later, rookie defensive tackle Eric Foster and defensive end Robert Mathis stopped Moore for no gain.
On 3rd-and-1, the Steelers again ran Moore up the middle, and Foster hit him hard for no gain, forcing the short field goal by Reed.
"It was big," Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said. "They ran the same plays they scored on before. Everybody knew what the play was going to be and we came off and stuffed it. Obviously, that was a big momentum play to hold them to three there."
Said Foster, "I faked two guys and I popped straight up, because I knew he was going to try to go over the top again. It's a great feeling."
SACK TIME: When Dwight Freeney sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, it was Freeney's fourth sack of the season and the Colts' 11th of the season.
The Colts snapped a streak of three games without a sack.
Freeney added another sack in the fourth quarter.
HARRISON INJURED: Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison sustained a concussion on a third-quarter incomplete pass in the end zone and returned.
HAYDEN INACTIVE: As expected, Kelvin Hayden missed a fifth consecutive game Sunday.
Hayden, a starting cornerback for the Colts the first four games of the season, was among eight players declared inactive by the Colts shortly before kickoff of their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field Sunday afternoon.
Hayden missed three starts with a knee injury and missed last week's victory over the New England Patriots with a hamstring injury.
The Colts' other gameday inactives were:
Wide receiver Roy Hall (knee), defensive tackle Dan Muir (hamstring), safety Jamie Silva, linebacker Jordan Senn, linebacker Buster Davis, center Steve Justice and tight end Tom Santi.
HOW THEY SCORED
COLTS 07 07 03 07 – 24
STEELERS 07 10 00 03 – 20
STEELERS 7, COLTS 0
Mewelde Moore 1 run (Jeff Reed kick), 9:07 remaining first quarter. Drive: 10 plays, 62 yards 5:53. Key play: Santonio Holmes 23 pass from Ben Roethlisberger on 3rd-and-2 from Steelers 42.
COLTS 7, STEELERS 7
Reggie Wayne 65 pass from Peyton Manning (Adam Vinatieri kick), 7:41 remaining first quarter. Drive: Four plays, 77 yards, 1:26. Key play: Joseph Addai 3 run on 3rd-and-1 from Colts 32.
STEELERS 14, COLTS 7
Moore 1 run (Reed kick), 13:21 remaining second quarter. Drive: Eight plays, 77 yards, 4:19. Key play: Hines Ward 41 pass from Roethlisberger on 1st-and-10 from Colts 42.
STEELERS 17, COLTS 7
Reed 42 FG, 4:22 remaining second quarter. Drive: Nine plays, 34 yards, 4:28. Key play: Matt Spaeth 13 pass from Roethlisberger on 3rd-and-5 from Colts 42.
STEELERS 17, COLTS 14
Dallas Clark 2 pass from Manning (Vinatieri kick), :06 remaining second quarter. Drive: Six plays, 30 yards, 1:18. Key play: Keiwan Ratliff 2 interception return gives Colts 1st-and-10 at Steelers 30.
COLTS 17, STEELERS 17
Vinatieri 36 FG, 8:14 remaining third quarter. Drive: 12 plays, 56 yard, 6:46. Key play: Addai 2 run on 3rd-and-2 from Steelers 27.
STEELERS 20, COLTS 17
Reed 24 FG, 7:57 remaining fourth quarter. Drive: 14 plays, 64 yards, 8:27. Key play: Ward 17 pass from Roethlisberger on 3rd-and-2 from the Steelers 49.
COLTS 24, STEELERS 20
Dominic Rhodes 17 pass from Manning (Vinatieri kick), 3:10 remaining fourth quarter. Drive: Four plays, 32 yards, 1:40. Key play: Tim Jennings 6 interception return gives Colts 1st-and-10 at Steelers 32.