PITTSBURGH--- It was already a hard place to win. The Colts have only won in the Steel City once since 1968 but struggling to generate a pass rush against a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback makes it darn near impossible.
The good news is the 45-10 loss to the Steelers didn't cause the Colts to lose ground to the Texans in the AFC South race. Indianapolis is 6-6 with Houston, after the Texans lost to the Bills 30-21.
That didn't make the results any easier to swallow in the aftermath of the loss though for the Indianapolis front seven. The Colts defense didn't sack Ben Roethlisberger last season. The same thing happened on this night, with one fewer quarterback hit than the one Indianapolis managed on Ben Roethlisberger in 2014.
"You can just watch it on film. They eight-man max protect," said outside linebacker Jonathan Newsome, who forced a fumble on the opening kickoff, recovered by the Colts. "He's a good quarterback. So, they're going to leave everybody in. They're short on receivers."
Newsome said that led to the Steelers keeping extra eligible receivers in to block the Colts pass rush, which made it difficult to get to Big Ben.
"If we're trying to get there with a three-man rush, the rushers got to work," said Newsome. "It's going to be hard for everybody. Three guys to get there against eight guys."
Trent Cole came the closest. His sack of Roethlisberger was negated by a defensive holding penalty.
"Just with the max protection and stuff," said Cole about why it was hard to generate a pass rush against Pittsburgh. "You gotta win your box. You know what I'm saying? You gotta beat the man across from you, and today they got the upper hand."
The defensive line agreed.
"They just did a really good job of just passing off our stuff," said defensive tackle Billy Winn. In other words, if a Colts pass rusher shed one blocker, another was right there to keep blocking him. "Just picking up what we were bringing."
It didn't help that Indianapolis ran into the hottest offense in the NFL. In 81 years, it was the first time the Steelers had scored 30 points in four consecutive games.
"They just did well up front," said nose tackle David Parry. "They had a good scheme, and they blocked it well. We just struggled overall."
Parry said Head Coach Chuck Pagano told the players after the game to flush the loss after Sunday night and get ready for the first back-to-back road game of the season at Jacksonville.
Rough night, but with four games to go, the AFC South title and home playoff game that comes with it are still controlled by the Indianapolis Colts.