ShareThis Page
News

Steelers rally from 14-point deficit, pull out victory at Indianapolis

Joe Rutter
| Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, 4:23 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS — Ryan Shazier could tell something was off long before the ball was teed up at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

"We definitely didn't have the energy we normally have," Shazier said. "I'm not going to lie. Before the game, some people even told me it didn't feel like a game day. The bye week throws you off a little bit."

For the Steelers, the lag from the bye threw them off to the tune of a 10-point deficit late in the first half and a 14-point hole early in the second.

A team that entered the second half of its schedule with a comfy lead in the division and top seed in the AFC was losing — and looking bad in doing it — against the last-place, three-win Indianapolis Colts.

Maybe the thought of dropping another road game to an inferior opponent inspired the Steelers. Maybe they just settled down and decided to play like a Super Bowl contender.

Whatever the reason, the Steelers avoided an embarrassing loss in their return from a week off, scoring 17 unanswered points in the second half to pull out a 20-17 victory over the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

When Chris Boswell's 33-yard field goal sailed through the uprights at time expired, the Steelers had won their fourth in a row to improve to 7-2.

And, just like that, nobody was fretting about missed tackles, broken coverages, dropped passes or special teams gaffes that plagued the Steelers throughout a game that included the loss of starting cornerback Joe Haden to a fibula fracture.

"There's a lot of negativity to talk about, but we'll talk about that negativity with a win," coach Mike Tomlin said. "That's my preference. Good lessons learned. Guys delivered in the critical moments, and that's exciting."

Ben Roethlisberger threw second-half touchdown passes to JuJu Smith-Schuster and Vance McDonald, plus a tying 2-point conversion pass to Martavis Bryant.

Boswell's winning kick came one series after his 37-yard attempt clanked off the right upright and followed a 19-yard, third-down catch by Bryant and a 32-yard reception by Antonio Brown that put the Steelers in field goal position.

"Guys didn't blink," Tomlin said. "You have to give them credit for that."

Until the comeback, the Steelers looked like they would lose their post-bye game for the fourth year in a row. They were shut out until Boswell kicked a field goal with 30 seconds left in the half, cutting into a 10-0 deficit.

Also in the first half:

• The Steelers punted three times on one drive, with the first two attempts being negated by holding penalties.

• Roethlisberger threw an interception on the second play of the game, a deep pass intended for Bryant, and fumbled a snap out of the shotgun late in the half.

• Corner Artie Burns was beaten badly on a 60-yard touchdown pass when Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett chose to go after him rather than backup Coty Sensabaugh, who had just replaced an injured Haden.

"I was flat personally the first couple of series, the first half," All-Pro guard David DeCastro said. "Credit to the team for sticking through it and finding a way to win, making the plays necessary."

The malaise didn't end at halftime. Brissett opened the second half with a 61-yard touchdown pass to Chester Rogers that featured missed tackles by nickel corner Mike Hilton and free safety Mike Mitchell.

"I just thought we were ready for the situation," defensive end Cam Heyward said. "Everybody locked in and said we've got to make some plays, get off the field, get the ball to our offense and see what we can do."

The Colts had just two first downs, one via a penalty, the rest of the way.

Roethlisberger, who had a 33.2 passer rating in the first half, threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Smith-Schuster with 7 minutes, 47 seconds left in the third. Boswell's extra-point attempt was blocked, but punter Jordan Berry and tight end Jesse James tracked down Matthias Farley 2 yards before he could complete an improbable 2-point return.

The Steelers struck again with 11:52 left, scoring three plays after Shazier intercepted Brissett at the Colts' 10. On third down, McDonald got open in the right corner of the end zone and waved his arms until Roethlisberger spotted him for a 7-yard score.

After taking a timeout, the Steelers lost 5 yards on a delay of game, pushing the 2-point attempt back to the 7. No matter. Roethlisberger found Bryant open across the back of the end zone to tie the score at 17-17.

All that was left was for Boswell to atone for his earlier missed field goal for the Steelers to sneak home with the ugliest of victories.

"You don't want all of them to be like this," DeCastro said "Make it a little cleaner, but it's the NFL. That's the way it is, and coming off a bye week, there's something to be said for that.

"Hopefully, we've got all of the rust off."

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster celebrates his touchdown next to the Colts' Matthias Farley during the third quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster celebrates his touchdown next to the Colts' Matthias Farley during the third quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers linebacker Bud Depree sacks Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the second quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers linebacker Bud Depree sacks Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the second quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier intercepts a pass intended for the Colts' Jack Doyle during the fourth quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier intercepts a pass intended for the Colts' Jack Doyle during the fourth quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier intercepts a pass intended for the Colts' Jack Doyle during the fourth quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier intercepts a pass intended for the Colts' Jack Doyle during the fourth quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt celebrates his sack of Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the fourth quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt celebrates his sack of Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the fourth quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant after pulling in a two-point conversion against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant after pulling in a two-point conversion against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt sacks Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the fourth quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt sacks Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the fourth quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers running back LeVeon Bell drags the Colts' Matthias Farley for extra yardage in the second quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back LeVeon Bell drags the Colts' Matthias Farley for extra yardage in the second quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger congratulates receiver Martavis Bryant after pulling in a two-point conversion against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger congratulates receiver Martavis Bryant after pulling in a two-point conversion against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Shuster pulls down a catch against the Colts on the final drive Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Shuster pulls down a catch against the Colts on the final drive Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Steelers' David DeCastro celebrates with kicker Chris Boswell after his field goal defeated the Colts as time expires in their game Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' David DeCastro celebrates with kicker Chris Boswell after his field goal defeated the Colts as time expires in their game Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hands off to Le'Veon Bell in the end zone during the third quarter against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hands off to Le'Veon Bell in the end zone during the third quarter against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schhuster scores a touchdown in the third quarter against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schhuster scores a touchdown in the third quarter against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017.
Indianapolis Colts wide reciever Chester Rogers scores against the Steelers in the third quarter on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Indianapolis Colts wide reciever Chester Rogers scores against the Steelers in the third quarter on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017.
Colts receiver Donte Moncrief scores past the Steelers' Mike Mitchell (23) and Artie Burns during the first quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Colts receiver Donte Moncrief scores past the Steelers' Mike Mitchell (23) and Artie Burns during the first quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster celebrates his touchdown with Le'Veon Bell during the third quarter against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster celebrates his touchdown with Le'Veon Bell during the third quarter against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Colts receiver Donte Moncrief catches a touchdown pass in front of the Steelers' Artie Burns during the first quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Colts receiver Donte Moncrief catches a touchdown pass in front of the Steelers' Artie Burns during the first quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Colts' Pierre Desir intercepts a ball intended for the Steelers' Martavis Bryant in the first quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Colts' Pierre Desir intercepts a ball intended for the Steelers' Martavis Bryant in the first quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws a shovel pass to running back Le'Veon Bell in the first quarter against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws a shovel pass to running back Le'Veon Bell in the first quarter against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Colts' Hassan Ridgeway sack Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the first quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Colts' Hassan Ridgeway sack Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the first quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is sacked by the Colts' Hassan Ridgeway during the first quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Roethlisberger said players' bodies need more than four days to recover between games.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is sacked by the Colts' Hassan Ridgeway during the first quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Roethlisberger said players' bodies need more than four days to recover between games.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Donte Montrief beats Steelers' corner Artie Burns for a 60-yard tounchdown in the second quarter on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Donte Montrief beats Steelers' corner Artie Burns for a 60-yard tounchdown in the second quarter on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017.
Steelers kicker Chris Boswell watches his winning field goal, as time expires against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers kicker Chris Boswell watches his winning field goal, as time expires against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers hold the flag with military personal during the national anthem before playing the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers hold the flag with military personal during the national anthem before playing the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin claps his hands as he leaves the field after a 20-17 win over the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin claps his hands as he leaves the field after a 20-17 win over the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant scores on a 2-point conversion to tie the game during the fourth quarter against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant scores on a 2-point conversion to tie the game during the fourth quarter against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and head coach Mike Tomlin stand with members of the military during the national anthem before a game against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and head coach Mike Tomlin stand with members of the military during the national anthem before a game against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward pressures Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the second quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward pressures Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the second quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Colts' Chester Rogers gets away from the Steelers' Mike Mitchell for a third-quarter touchdown Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Colts' Chester Rogers gets away from the Steelers' Mike Mitchell for a third-quarter touchdown Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Colts' Donte Moncrief beats the Steelers Mike Mitchell for a second-quarter touchdown Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Colts' Donte Moncrief beats the Steelers Mike Mitchell for a second-quarter touchdown Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Colts' Marlon Mack hurdles Steelers cornerback Coty Sensabaugh along the side line during the third quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Colts' Marlon Mack hurdles Steelers cornerback Coty Sensabaugh along the side line during the third quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Colts' Chester Rogers tries to elude Steelers safety Sean Davis, as cornerback Joe Haden lays on the ground after breaking his leg during the first quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Colts' Chester Rogers tries to elude Steelers safety Sean Davis, as cornerback Joe Haden lays on the ground after breaking his leg during the first quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers running back LeVeon Bell with a second-quarter run against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back LeVeon Bell with a second-quarter run against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell carries for a first down during the third quarter against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell carries for a first down during the third quarter against the Colts Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Shuster pulls in a catch past the Colts' Pierre Desir in the second quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Shuster pulls in a catch past the Colts' Pierre Desir in the second quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers linebacker Vince Williams sacks Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the fourth quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers linebacker Vince Williams sacks Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the fourth quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Steelers defense celebrates Ryan Shazier's interception against the Colts in the fourth quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers defense celebrates Ryan Shazier's interception against the Colts in the fourth quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steelers tight end Vance McDonald catches a touchdown pass over the Colts' Nate Hairston during the fourth quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers tight end Vance McDonald catches a touchdown pass over the Colts' Nate Hairston during the fourth quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Colts' Chester Rogers eludes Steelers safety Mike Mitchell and cornerback Mike Hilton en route to a touchdown during the third quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Colts' Chester Rogers eludes Steelers safety Mike Mitchell and cornerback Mike Hilton en route to a touchdown during the third quarter Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me