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Colts/Steelers Notebook: Lack Of Pass Rush Hurts Defense; Donte Moncrief Blossoms

Intro: The Colts five-game winning streak came to a screeching halt on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh. Here’s a notebook look at the Colts falling 51-34 to the Steelers.





INDIANAPOLIS – The "week-to-week" mantra of life in the NFL was on full display on Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.

The Colts (5-3), winners of their previous five contests, could not sustain that momentum in falling 51-34 to the Steelers (5-3).

Here's a notebook look at the Colts Week Eight matchup with the Steelers

Colts Struggle To Get To Big Ben

A popular theme leading up to Sunday in Pittsburgh was how the Colts would try to get Ben Roethlisberger on the ground.

Roethlisberger, known for his ability to routinely extend plays, had been sacked 20 times in 2014 but the Colts still knew how effective the 6-5 quarterback could be at keeping things alive.

The Colts defense though rarely got to the Pittsburgh signal caller and finished the game with just one quarterback hit in 49 pass attempts.

Chuck Pagano called Roethlisberger a future Hall of Famer earlier in the week and the signal caller definitely played like one on Sunday with a 40-of-49, 522-yard, six-touchdown performance.

"We weren't able to generate from the (defensive) standpoint any pressure on the quarterback," Pagano said after the loss.

"They did a great job on protecting Ben. There were big plays, new extended plays that were outside the pocket."

During the Colts five-game winning streak, the defense had made a living in opposing backfields with 20 sacks.

On Sunday, that collective pass rush was absent.

That led to the Steelers converting 8-of-13 third downs, an area where the Colts defense has thrived all season long.

"We just didn't get to (Roethlisberger)," Cory Redding said after the game. "We fought our tails back to make it an eight-point game. We were there. We were knocking on the door. We just didn't kick it in.

"We have to get back to work and get ready for next week."Donte Moncrief Highlights Day For The Offense

With Reggie Wayne standing on the sideline in a sweat suit Sunday, the opportunities were there for Colts pass catchers to emerge.

Rookie Donte Moncrief showed that his 21-year old self wasn't afraid of such a stage.

Moncrief had career highs in receptions (7), receiving yards (113) and scored his first NFL touchdown in the third quarter.

"Donte was running great routes, playing fast and he certainly doesn't play like a rookie," Andrew Luck said.

"He's solid, he's steady and I'm happy for how well he played today."

Moncrief played the ideal supporting role to yet another 100-yard afternoon for T.Y. Hilton.

For the third straight week, Hilton eclipsed triple digits in the receiving yards department.

Hilton finished the day with six catches for 155 yards and scored his second touchdown of the season.

Andrew Luck recorded his sixth consecutive 300-yard passing game, which broke Peyton Manning's franchise record.

Luck continues to put up prolific numbers in 2014 and is on pace to shatter numerous team records.

Of course, Luck wasn't too keen on discussing such numbers after the game.

The Colts will have an extra day of preparation this week before heading to New York for Monday Night Football against the Giants.

"I think the mindset of the team is great," Luck said of the 5-3 Colts.

"We realize that in football, you have to prove yourself every week and there's no resting on laurels. Once this one is done, who you are is your last game and this is our last game."Defensive Injuries Pile Up

The Colts offense did put up 31 points on Sunday with starters Reggie Wayne and Trent Richardson seeing no action.

On the other side of the football, the injury bug wasn't too kind to the Colts.

Vontae Davis left in the second quarter with a knee injury, something Chuck Pagano didn't believe to be too serious when the head coach addressed the media after the game.

Outside linebacker Erik Walden then exited a little later with a hip flexor.

There's no denying the importance of those two injuries with Walden being a consistent edge player in Robert Mathis' absence.

At the backend, Davis has been playing at a Pro Bowl level and the Colts defense missed his lockdown ability for a bulk of Sunday.

It will be interesting to watch those injured Colts go through practice this week with an extra day of rest before Monday night. Remember, a bye week comes following the Giants game.A Look At The Colts Snap Counts Against Pittsburgh

-With Reggie Wayne out of the lineup, the wide receiver snaps were as followed: T.Y. Hilton (65 of 66), Hakeem Nicks (60), Donte Moncrief (40) and Griff Whalen (13).

-At running back, a banged up Trent Richardson didn't play a snap. Ahmad Bradshaw played 48 and Boom Herron logged 18.

-Jack Doyle played just two snaps (knee). Fellow tight ends Coby Fleener (44) and Dwayne Allen (40) paced the group.

-Defensively, Greg Toler and Mike Adams played all 83 snaps.

-Returning from injury, Darius Butler played 72 snaps. Josh Gordy was on the field for 39 defensive snaps with Vontae Davis exiting in the first half.

-At outside linebacker, Andy Studebaker (31), Jonathan Newsome (39) and Victor Butler (11) all saw action in place of Erik Walden (33) leaving the game early.

-Arthur Jones saw his first action since Week Two and his 36 defensive snaps were the fourth most along the defensive line.

Photos from the week 8 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers

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