Colts/Steelers Notebook: Missed Opportunities Lead To Later Regret For AFC South Leaders

Intro: In the Colts/Steelers Week 13 Notebook, we take a look at the missed chances early in Sunday’s loss, Ben Roethlisberger’s big day and how the AFC South shapes up with four weeks remaining.

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INDIANAPOLIS – The years have gone by, but the difficulty of playing in Pittsburgh has remained for the Colts.

Playing in a hostile environment on Sunday night, the Colts had some early chances to force the Steelers to play from behind on Sunday but could not capitalize.

Here's a notebook look at the Colts three-game winning streak coming to a close.

**Missed Opportunities Lead To Regret For Colts

**It was the start road teams dream of, especially in places where winning has never come easy.

Before Sunday's game between the Colts and Steelers was five minutes old, the Colts had forced two turnovers, starting two drives inside the Pittsburgh 25-yard line.

The result?

Just three points.

The Colts would have six drives reach the red zone on Sunday and could only produce 10 total points.

"We knew going into the game that we could not trade field goals for scores," Dwayne Allen said after the 45-10 loss.

Highlights from the Steelers game.

The six red-zone drives for the Colts ended like this: interception, field goal, touchdown, turnover on downs, fumble and another turnover on downs.

Average drive start is typically a strong indicator of a game's final score.

However, on Sunday, the Colts averaged to start their drives from the Indy 42-yard line, 19 yards further from where Pittsburgh averaged to begin their 12 drives.

The Colts took a 10-6 lead late in the second quarter before Pittsburgh scored on five of their next six drives (plus a punt return for a touchdown).

"We take a lead, then they score and get a two-point conversion," Chuck Pagano said, describing the snowball effect of Sunday's loss. "Then they got another score at the end of the half in a two-minute situation. It's 21-10. Then we come out (of halftime) and don't get anything going offensively. They go right down the field and put another on the board.

"It was downhill from there."**

Colts Can't Get To Big Ben

**If there was any question Ben Roethlisberger was going to play on Sunday night, he squelched that with his play.

The future Hall of Famer was virtually flawless, completing 24-of-39 passes for 364 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.

For a second straight season, the Colts did not sack or hit Big Ben.

"They do a really good job of executing their game plan," Colts defensive end Billy Winn said after the loss. "They have had the same game plan for what seems like four years. I spent three in Cleveland playing those guys twice a year. It is almost like nothing has changed. They find what they are good at and go out there and stick to their plan."

One of the aspects of the Pittsburgh offense that told much of the story on Sunday night was their ability to strike with big plays.

Pittsburgh produced eight plays of at least 20 yards, from six different players.

In the last two meetings with the Steelers, Big Ben has completed 73 percent of his attempts for 886 yards, 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

After the loss, Vontae Davis tried to provide some perspective for a unit that knows they must critique the film from multiple angles before three of four divisional contests to end the season.

"We've got to come together as a unit and decide what we want to do," Davis said after the Colts fell to 6-6 on the year.

"We have a month left in the season and we can still make a run. We are still in great position."**

Indianapolis, Houston Enter Final Quarter At 6-6

**There continues to be virtually no separation at the top of the AFC South.

With Houston losing on the road to Buffalo in Week 13, the Texans stayed at 6-6.

The Colts (6-6) continue to hold a tiebreaker over the Texans because of their Week Five win in Houston.

Jacksonville (4-8) lost a shootout to Tennessee (3-9) on Sunday, severely dampening their already slim playoff chances.

Over the next four weeks, the Colts and Texans will play three divisional games.**

Colts/Steelers Snap Counts**

  • The wide receiver snaps on Sunday went as followed: T.Y. Hilton (55-of-58), Donte Moncrief (50-of-58), Andre Johnson (32-of-58), and Griff Whalen (21-of-58).
  • The running back reps were led by Frank Gore (33-of-58). Behind Gore, Boom Herron (13) and Zurlon Tipton (11) filled in for Ahmad Bradshaw.
  • At tight end, the snaps were divided up with Coby Fleener receiving 43 snaps. Dwayne Allen also logged 23 snaps. Jack Doyle played 8.
  • D'Qwell Jackson, Vontae Davis and Mike Adams (returning from an ankle injury) played all 74 defensive snaps.
  • Without Jerrell Freeman, Nate Irving (40) and Sio Moore (18) saw their most substantial work of the season.
  • Facing the Steelers potent passing attack, Darius Butler (37) and Clayton Geathers (16) saw extended work in the secondary.
  • Playing again without Henry Anderson, the defensive line snaps were as followed: Kendall Langford (46), David Parry (38), Zach Kerr (34), Billy Winn (33), T.Y. McGill (16).
  • At outside linebacker, with Bjoern Werner inactive, the snaps went to: Erik Walden (48), Robert Mathis (48), Trent Cole (41), Jonathan Newsome (31).
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