INDIANAPOLIS – It was another week and a different challenge offensively but the Colts' defense once again put together an impressive performance.
The first-team defense saw its starters play together for almost the entire first half, allowing just seven points and forcing a turnover.
Safety Antoine Bethea picked off Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the game's opening drive.
The interception came on a third-and-four from the Steelers 47-yard line and was a bit of a reprieve for the defense after not being able to recover cornerback Jerraud Powers' forced fumble earlier in the drive.
Powers forced a fumble of Steelers running back Chris Rainey on the third play from scrimmage, but the defense was not able to come up with the loose ball.
The first-team defense has now played eight drives together in the preseason and has allowed just seven points.
"We are still trying to get some things right, still got some things to iron out but for the most part, guys are getting it and working hard. Week in and week out guys are improving," Bethea said.
Outside linebackers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis exited after the second defensive drive, but the starters remained for the rest of the half.
Mathis (shoulder) and defensive end Cory Redding (knee) each left the games with injuries but Pagano said following the game that he did not believe either of them was serious.
Even without Freeney and Mathis, the defense allowed just one first down the remainder of the half, while forcing a trio three-and-outs on the half's final four drives.
In the second half, outside linebacker Jerry Hughes continued his impressive preseason with another sack and co-led the team (outside linebacker Jerry Brown had seven as well) with seven tackles.
Defensive tackle Drake Nevis and outside linebacker Mario Addison each contributed sacks for Indianapolis.
"For the most part I think we did a good job collectively, and we got some things to build on," Bethea said.
The entire Colts defense has allowed just one touchdown through eight quarters of the preseason.
Down 14-0 against the Steelers and needing to keep the deficit as small as possible, the defense rose to the occasion in giving the Colts an opportunity to win the game.
"(The defense) did a great job because we put them in some tough spots," Pagano said. "To come out in the second half and force three field goals and get a hand on the last one and give us a chance to win the game, I'm just really proud of all of them."
Indianapolis defeated St. Louis in the opener last Sunday, 38-3. The Colts now have a shorter week in meeting Washington next Saturday on the road.