Steelers Postgame Commentary: Week 16 vs Colts
By COMON Network Team
Final Score – Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3) 28 def. Indianapolis Colts (10-5) 24
The Pittsburgh Steelers trailed 21-7 at halftime, and came back to win 28-24 and clinch the AFC North title Sunday at Heinz Field. The Steelers trailed by as many as 17, and it goes down as the largest second-half comeback under Mike Tomlin for Pittsburgh.
Jonathan Taylor started the scoring with a six-yard run in the first quarter, on Indianapolis’ first drive. James Conner answered with a one-yard run in the second quarter. Taylor got in from a yard out then Philip Rivers launched a deep ball for a 42-yard score to Zach Pascal. To open the scoring in the third, Rodrigo Blankenship hit a 28-yard field goal. That’s when the Steelers came alive. After a quick stop inside the Colts’ 10, Ben Roethlisberger found Diontae Johnson for a 39-yard touchdown to pull the Steelers within 10. Eric Ebron hauled in a five-yard pass for a TD from Roethlisberger to make it 24-21. The final blow was JuJu Smith-Schuster’s 25-yard touchdown grab from Roethlisberger. The Steelers’ defense got a stop to seal the deal.
The Steelers are the AFC North champs for the first time since 2017 and have locked up either the 2 or 3 seed in the AFC playoffs. They’ll finish the regular season next week at Cleveland, who fell to the Jets today and will need to win to have a chance at the playoffs.
COMON Network Team Commentary
- Celebration gone early. Last week I gave Cleveland the AFC North crown. But the Steelers, Browns and Jets had different plans. After the loss in Cincinnati, I thought this team was cooked in 2020. The first half today didn’t provide much hope either. The second half was a flip of the switch and out of nowhere. It looked like Big Ben was 10 years younger. A remarkable turnaround in record time. The biggest comeback in Mike Tomlin’s history. The win earned Pittsburgh the AFC North. They wouldn’t have needed it anyway. Cleveland blew it against the red-hot Jets.
- Back on the saddle. Ben Roethlisberger looked like a different guy in the second half. He put on the cape. He rode out on his white horse. He put the keys in the ignition and he led the Steelers to victory. Three second half touchdowns and consecutive drives with the Steelers in the end zone. If he looks the same next week (if he plays), my confidence is at a good spot for the playoffs.
- Corvette Corvette. JuJu didn’t dance before the game, but he had reason to afterwards. Nine grabs for nearly 100 yards and a touchdown to give Pittsburgh the lead in the fourth quarter. He got back to it in the locker room to celebrate the division title.
Player of the Game: Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
- That’s one of the best wins of Mike Tomlin’s tenure at the head of the table in Pittsburgh. The first half again was horrible, but good teams find a way, and the Steelers found a way today. The Steelers got a sudden change and a huge stop after the failed fourth-down conversion then had the bomb to Diontae Johnson. That’s your big turnaround today. Because after that the team clamped down, got stops and the offense looked like it did early in the season. Ben Roethlisberger was AWESOME in the second half and the receivers were too. JuJu Smith-Schuster had his best game of the year, debatably. Diontae Johnson had some big grabs, as did Chase Claypool. Eric Ebron and James Conner got in the mix. For as many bad things as you can say about the first half, there are more good things about the second half. Incredible work.
- Mike Hilton. I don’t know that words describe how good this guy is when he’s on. Two passes defensed and a huge interception. A fumble recovery on top of it early in the game. Wow.
- TJ Watt should win defensive player of the year. Three tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, a TFL and a QBH. He had a relatively quiet second half but he was electric in the first half.
- I talked on Preview about the Steelers needing to win the turnover battle. They did that, and the result? A really short field that led to a touchdown and a huge INT that aided the comeback.
- Nobody is talking about this either, but how good has Jordan Berry been since he came back?
- AFC North Champs for the first time since 2017. I don’t rest the starters next week. I think the two seed (if Buffalo loses to Miami and the Steelers win) is enough of a difference for me, at least as of this writing.
Player of the Game: JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT) with a hat tip to Big Ben
- That was quite possibly one of the best wins of Mike Tomlin’s career. The team did an absolute 180 in the second half. Bravo.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster deserved much of the criticism he’s been getting in recent weeks because he wasn’t backing up his antics. Today, he back them up. If this is the JuJu we see for however long the rest of the season is, buckle in, baby.
- That last Colt charge was nerve racking, indeed. But I remembered along the way that Philip Rivers doesn’t do too well in those situations. Rivers is a Hall of Famer, but not somebody you want leading the way in the last minutes. He did nothing to sway the narrative today, and the Colts lost.
Player of the Game: JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT)
- A true tale of two halves. Good teams find ways to win close games, and the Steelers found a way to win today. Coach Tomlin rolled up his sleeves, put his sammich in his lunch pail, and put together a 2nd half game plan that gave the Steelers their first 17 point comeback win in the 2nd half under Mike Tomlin.
- There are plenty of bones to pick with the Steelers play in the first half, but the only one I’ll highlight is this: Why on earth are there guys like Karlos Davis, Jayrone Elliott, Tegray Scales, and Cassius Marsh doing in the game on defense in key situations? I totally get the fact that the Steelers are shot on guys with Dupree being out, but there’s a fine line with the “Next Man Up” philosophy and playing practice squad guys in key situations for no reason
- The AFC North belongs to Pittsburgh once more, and to put icing on the cake, the Browns lost their chances at the division and possibly the playoffs to the 2nd worst team in the NFL. Comon.
Player of the Game: JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT)