PITTSBURGH —The Indianapolis Colts earned their first win of the 2017 preseason schedule on Saturday, as they went on the road and defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 19-15, at Heinz Field.
It was a much-needed victory for the Colts after they opened the preseason with losses to the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys. Against the Steelers, however, all three phases of the game truly contributed to a winning effort, giving the team some momentum heading into Thursday's preseason finale against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium.[
"It is always good to win. I don't care what the stakes are, they all matter," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said. "This team needed this win and it came at the right time."
Here are the FIVE THINGS LEARNEDfrom Saturday's game against the Steelers:• FAST START:
The Colts had ideal starts on both offense and defense at the beginning of Saturday's contest. The Steelers started with the ball, but outside linebacker John Simon would quickly take care of that, strip-sacking quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on their opening drive, which was recovered by defensive lineman Hassan Ridgeway. Then, thanks in large part to a 55-yard pass play from Scott Tolzien to Donte Moncrief on Indy's first play from scrimmage, the Colts would respond with a 1-yard touchdown run by Frank Gore on *their *opening possession. The big plays on both ends were missing at the start of the Lions and Cowboys games, but Indianapolis was able to do just that on Saturday.
• GIMME THAT — AGAIN:For good reason, the Colts' defense has been in the spotlight when it comes to the takeaway battle this preseason, and that theme definitely continued on Saturday. While Simon's big sack and forced fumble was perhaps the play of the game, cornerback Chris Milton would later pick off quarterback Landry Jones in the end zone — on a 1st and Goal play from the 1-yard line, no less — to earn the team's second takeaway of the game. In all, the Colts' defense has now forced five turnovers in three preseason games, which is music to the ears of coordinator Ted Monachino and his staff.
• DORSETT DAZZLES:Jacoby Brissett came into training camp knowing he'd have a battle on his hands for the No. 3 wide receiver position, and his performance on Saturday certainly didn't hurt his chances. After missing the Lions game and then returning for the Cowboys game and logging two catches for 15 yards, Dorsett was all over the field for the Colts' offense on Saturday. He was targeted four times in all, logging three receptions for a game-best 60 yards. His best play of the night came on the team's fourth drive. On 2nd and 6 from his own 17-yard line, quarterback Scott Tolzien dropped back and found Dorsett deep down the right side for a 32-yard gain to the Indy 49. A roughing the passer penalty on the play would further advance the ball to the Pittsburgh 36, and four plays later, Adam Vinatieri would connect on a 45-yard field goal to put the Colts up 10-3.
• SECONDARY STANDOUTS:Aside from some tackling issues he mentioned after the game, Pagano has to come away pleased with the individual play from several members of his secondary on Saturday. Safety Matthias Farley had two key pass breakups to help stall a Pittsburgh drive in the first quarter, leading to a field goal, and then had a big sack in the second quarter on second down; the Steelers would punt two plays later. Then, rookie Nate Hairston continued his strong training camp and preseason on Saturday, logging six tackles, all solo stops. Included in that total was a tackle for a loss of four yards on Steelers running back Knile Davis. Both Farley and Hairston could play major roles for the Colts' secondary this season.
• MOVE THE CHAINS:The Colts struggled on third down in their first two preseason games, moving the chains on just 5-of-30 possible third-down attempts. Saturday's game was a different story, however, as Indy had a third down efficiency of 5-for-11 (45 percent). The Colts had three of those conversions on one drive alone, which ended in a 1-yard touchdown run by second-year halfback Josh Ferguson, giving the Colts a 19-15 fourth quarter lead they wouldn't relinquish.
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