PITTSBURGH --- The NFL is tricky. One week the Colts defense gets its first shutout since 2008. The next Indianapolis loses 51-34 on the road to the Steelers. It's a hard league to figure out from week to week, but the Colts defensive players in the locker room after the game took ownership of the loss.
"You just got to eat crow while it's hot," said Colts outside linebacker Andy Studebaker. "Get back to the drawing board. Come back confident next week. I still believe in these guys, and I'd go to battle with them no matter what. Not what we wanted tonight, but certainly not panic mode."
Nor should it be. The Colts sit at 5-3, still all alone atop the AFC South, with one more Monday Night game at the Giants before the bye week. As for week 8 though, the Colts defense gave credit to the Steelers offense.
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger became the first quarterback in NFL history to have two 500 yard passing games. His 6 touchdown passes were also a career-high. He was not sacked.
"They did a really good job of keeping us off balance," said defensive lineman Art Jones, playing for the first time since week 2 when he suffered a high ankle sprain at home against Philadelphia. "The back was really patient hitting his holes."
Steelers running back LeVeon Bell had 156 yards rushing and receiving to go with his quarterback's 522 yards passing.
"When you look at the whole game, nothing stands out specifically that got us beat," said safety Mike Adams. "Nothing. The only thing specifically is us - missed tackles, guys wide open. That's us. That's all us. That's defense."
On the offensive side of the ball, the Colts flourished again, for the most part. Andrew Luck threw for 400 yards and 3 touchdowns, despite two interceptions. It was his 6th straight 300 yard passing game to break Peyton Manning's franchise record and move into a tie for 4th in NFL history in that category.
The Colts also had two 100-yard receivers for the second time this season (T.Y. Hilton with 155 yards on six catches with a touchdown and rookie Donte Moncrief with a breakout 113 yards on seven catches with a score).
Running back Ahmad Bradshaw also added 87 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown as well, and the Colts offense did this without running back Trent Richardson (activated for game but didn't play with lingering hamstring) and wide receiver Reggie Wayne (inactive, elbow).
So Andy Studebaker has a point. Yes, there are things to clean up...but it is far from panic mode.