Ben Roethlisberger played four series in the team’s first home preseason game, the first of which ended prematurely on an interception by Indianapolis’ Antoine Bethea. Big Ben atoned for the early turnover on his next drive, with a little help from Antonio Brown. Brown caught a short pass and snaked his way through the Colts’ defense for a highlight-reel 57-yard touchdown.
The Steelers added to their early lead with a defensive play late in the first quarter. Ike Taylor got a good jump on an Andrew Luck pass and turned an interception into an uncontested touchdown, giving his team a 14-0 lead at the end of the first frame.
Luck and the Indianapolis offense, which is led by former Steelers-coordinator Bruce Arians, managed to answer with a score of their own just five plays into the second quarter. Running back Donald Brown broke the plane on third-and-one to cut Pittsburgh’s lead to seven. Luck nearly struck again on the next drive, but a bobbled pass that could have been a touchdown fell into the hands of Cortez Allen for the Steelers’ second turnover.
Indianapolis tied things up after the two-minute warning on the legs of Luck, as the first-overall pick kept it himself for a one-yard score on fourth down. The Colts managed to get the ball back one more time and Adam Vinatieri kicked a 53-yard field goal to put his team ahead 17-14 at the half.
Pittsburgh came out strong to start the second half. The defense forced a three-and-out and the subsequent punt by Plum-native Pat McAfee was blocked by Monroeville-native Mortty Ivy. That block set Pittsburgh up with great starting field position, resulting in a 25-yard field goal by backup-kicker Daniel Hrappman.
Colts quarterback Drew Stanton put his team ahead once again with an answering score on the next drive. Stanton chipped his way down the field and capped the drive off with a four-yard touchdown pass to Griff Whalen.
Charlie Batch ended his night with one more scoring drive, with the help of a fellow Batch (running back Baron) and second-year receiver David Gilreath. Gilreath’s 41-yard reception was the highlight of a 12-play drive that ended with a 39-yard field goal by Hrappman, setting the score at 24-20 in favor of the visitors.
Jerrod Johnson took over at quarterback for the Steelers in the fourth quarter, and drove the offense down the field for yet another field goal by Hrappman, this time from 43-yards out. The Colts would sneak into Steelers territory on the very next drive, by the scoring threat was ended by the team’s third takeaway – an interception by cornerback Josh Victorian.
After the turnover, Johnson and the offense took over and churned out a 15-play drive that ended with a 22-yard field goal by Hrappman. The attempt was actually blocked, but the ball somehow ended up sneaking through the uprights regardless. That kick put the Steelers up 26-24, and the defense held to seal the team’s first win in the 2012 preseason.
The Steelers came out of the game “relatively clean” as far as injuries go according to head coach Mike Tomlin. Chris Rainey left the game early and was tested for a concussion, but re-entered the game after tests proved negative.
Through the Air
Ben Roethlisberger hit on five of his nine passes for 81 yards and a touchdown with one interception. Charlie Batch took over in the second quarter and finished the day with 84 yards on 7-of-10 passing. Antonio Brown caught two balls for 75 yards, one of which was a spectacular 57-yard touchdown. David Gilreath led the team with four catches for 78 yards. TEs David Paulson and Leonard Pope and RB Chris Rainey were the only other players with multiple receptions.
On the Ground
Jonathan Dwyer got the start and churned out 43 yards on eight attempts. Jacob Ford picked up 42 yards on eight carries of his own in the fourth quarter. Baron Batch accumulated only 18 yards on his eight attempts and the speedster Chris Rainey contributed 20 yards on his six runs.
The Colts actually outgained the home team, but the Steelers had a major advantage in turnovers – three to the Colts’ one. Ike Taylor took an interception to the house in the first quarter. Cortez Allen and Josh Victorian also got into the action with a pick apiece. LaMarr Woodley registered the team’s only sack. Ryan Clark led the team in tackles with six.
Backup-kicker Daniel Hrappman hit on all four of his field goal attempts, despite the fact that the last one was partially blocked. Shaun Suisham contributed two extra points. Drew Butler averaged 44.8 yards on five punts. The return game struggled, with Chris Rainey averaging 21.5 yards on two kickoff returns.
Wide receiver David Gilreath was the star of the second half, catching four passes on four targets for 78 yards. It was a big performance for a player who is definitely in the running for one of the team’s final slots at receiver.
The Steelers will head north to Buffalo to take on the Bills (0-2 in the preseason) on Saturday night. The game will be broadcast locally on KDKA-TV with kickoff slated for 7:00 PM.