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Steelers Escape Indianapolis with 23-20 Win on Late Field Goal

Shaun Suisham celebrates kicking the game winning field goal

Take a deep breath Steeler Nation – your team is 2-1.

Not that it was easy, but the Steelers marched into Indy and for 15 minutes looked like big bad bullies. By the time it was over, they were more than lucky to escape without having a number “2” in the “L” column in the standings.

The result was a 23-20 win that kept Steeler fans with short fingernails till Colts QB Curtis Painter’s final pass fell woefully incomplete with :00 on the clock. Until then, many wearing black and gold around America and world had their pulses a lot higher than they wanted.

The Steelers played way too much down to the competition of a team that will be lucky without future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning to win 5 games.

They let Painter and his cohorts march down the field for an 80-yard drive after they took a 20-13 lead, and had to go into frantic mode to get downfield to allow Shaun Suisham to kick a game-winning 38-yard field goal with four seconds left.

The Colts hung tough against the defending AFC champions despite missing Manning, and they also lost backup quarterback Kerry Collins early because of an apparent concussion. Mostly due to the fact they got three second quarter turnovers, and harassed QB Ben Roethlisberger all night.

The Steelers O-line is just terrible at this point, some of it due to injury, the rest simply due to the fact they are not that good as players.

The team was lucky to shake off three turnovers and get into field goal range to finish off a 364-yard effort through the air for Roethlisberger.

Mike Wallace caught Roethlisberger’s only touchdown pass — an 81-yard bomb — and had 144 yards on five receptions. After his long TD made it 10-0, he was barley heard from again, and that was due to the fact Dwight Freeney owned the Steelers O-line, using Jonathan Scott and others as his own highlight film.

Painter relieved Collins in the fourth and lost a fumble after a hit from James Harrison, and the ball bounced right to Troy Polamalu, who returned it for a TD to make it 20-13.

It seemed at that point the defense would easily be able to hold down the Colts offense for the win. Instead, they allowed Painter and the Colts to march down the field and eventually Polamalu missed what could have been another fumble and Joseph Addai ran in for a score to tie the game with 2:09 remaining.

Addai gashed the usually very good Steelers run D for 86 yards and a TD for the Colts, who fell to 0-3 for the first time since 1998, which happened to be Manning’s rookie year.

Roethlisberger lost a fumble to let the Colts get back in the game with them eventually kicking a field goal to make it 10-3 in the second quarter. Then Freeney blasted him, knocking the ball out and Jammal Anderson picked it up and went 47 yards for a score to tie the game at 10.

Indy took a 13-10 lead at the half after Roethlisberger threw a pick, and the Colts were in good enough position to kick a short field goal right before half.

Suisham kicked a 48-yard field goal less than 3 minutes in the game to make it 3-0, but then in the 3rd quarter missed a 36-yard field goal that would have tied the game at 13.

Next week it will be an interesting test for a team that you just can’t predict right now. They will head to Houston to take on the 2-1 Texans, a team that had a lead and lost Sunday to the Saints in New Orleans.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. mark

    September 26, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Well, my fears came true! Our tackles were horrid against the rush, Legursky continues to stink,Scott should be arrested for conspiracy to murder for his play and the defense gave up a TD to a Curtis Painter lead offense in less than 3 minutes or so. Yeah, this team has the look of a champion!

  2. The Tony

    September 26, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Jay, we are all fully aware of the putrid O-Line that the Steelers bring out year after year. It is going to be a long season with our current situation. However probably the best thing that happened to the offensive line was sadly the injuries to LeGursky and Scott. Now maybe we will go sign someone who can block. There were a few bright spots for the Steelers though. Troy Polamalu looked to be 100 percent again, which we can say for the first time in a long time. Other than being beat on a double move, Ike Taylor continues to play lock down coverage. James Harisson made a few big plays when needed, with the strip sack that allowed Troy to score. There are many aspects to the Steelers now that they must improve. Our pass rush this season has been extremely inconsistent, Woodley and Harisson are not applying enough pressure off the edges with the consistency that we are used to seeing. There is nothing more to say about the offensive line that hasn’t been said before. Lastly the bread and butter to our Defense on stopping the run has been wildly inconsistent as well, especially when running on first down. If I were a Steeler, I would be really worried for next weeks game against Houston. Tate has been running well, and Foster should be returning. Not to mention that Shaub is going to easily throw for 300 against our secondary. The only way we are going to have a chance is if the Steelers control the trenches and apply tons of pressure and hit Matt Shaub as much as possible

    • jay

      September 27, 2011 at 6:43 am

      It’s funny, you’re saying, “Jay” In an attempt to address me…I didn’t even post?!?

    • jay

      September 27, 2011 at 6:49 am

      But since you mentioned…I cannot wait until next year when there are no more: Farrior, A. Smith, Byant McFadden. I know, be careful what you wish for but if the defense is going to struggle, then I’d prefer to see it happen with Sylvester or Worilds and the young DB’s taking their lumps in lieu of these old heads who can’t play anymore. Aaron Smith is washed up period, end of story. Ditto for Farrior. Hampton is getting pushed around more this year as well.

  3. DrGeorge

    September 26, 2011 at 10:21 am

    “Escape” is a well chosen verb in the headline. All of the things we observed before the game remain true: the O-line is a work in progress; Ben holds the ball too long and rolls out into the arms of the defensive ends (the line can’t be faulted for that!); the defensive line rarely got to the Colts QB on passing plays and proved porous against the run. The Colts are an average team, and the Steelers needed a heroic effort to beat them. We said this game would serve as a litmus test for the Steelers, and it did. Tomlin can’t be happy.

    Now, having said all that, let’s try to be positive. The Colt defensive front remains very good; they would give any team trouble. Our O-line admittedly struggled in pass protection, but held together, except for J. Scott, who repeatedly let defenders get under his pads and walk him (run him?) back to Ben. Kemoeatu, Pouncey, and Gilbert held their own. Legursky is playing out of position and he is undersized, but he plays hard and made several key blocks. After he and Gilbert went out with injuries, Essex and Foster, who are larger and more experienced, filled in capably. My guess is that J. Scott, who is at best a journeyman tackle, will go back to being a backup, unless both Gilbert and Legursky can’t play due to injury. Essex and Foster will probably both start against Houston, filling in where injury requires. Just as he did last season, Coach Kugler will revamp the O-line as best he can with the talent he has. My colleagues here, Jay and Mark, lament the failure to upgrade the O-line in the draft or through free agency, and they are right. The Steelers have failed to shore up this weakness for several years. But an average O-line was good enough to win Super Bowl XL and good enough to get us to the Super Bowl last year. If we can avoid further injuries, Kugler can revamp the O-line and make it serviceable. Not great, perhaps, but solid.

    Arians must help, by devoting more time in practice to run blocking and to
    controlling the clock. Our line is inconsistent in run blocking because Arians’ emphasis is on the pass. Given the NFL rule changes, Ben’s talent, and our fleet receivers, this emphasis is understandable. But given the inexperience of and injuries to the O-line, Arians’ emphasis must be tempered by reality. The present O-line cannot be asked to hold out defenders for more than 3 seconds routinely, when the opposing defense does not respect our rushing game. They simply T-off on Ben. A better running game will in fact improve the passing game by keeping the opposing defense honest. We must also be able to run the ball when needed to rest the Defense, to control the clock, and to score in the red zone. Ben must help his O-line by accepting the shorter passes the opposing defense gives him and by getting rid of the ball faster.

    So there are answers and they are within our grasp with our existing personnel. The question is whether Arians and Ben are willing to adapt.

  4. mark

    September 26, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Guys, I have been a Steeler fan A LONG time. By far, this is the most putrid O-line I have ever seen. In fact, the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball is an issue. If Manning were playing last night, Steelers lose. Period. I am going to watch the Texans game next week out of morbid curiosity. Sure, I will be rooting for my Steelers. I also expect them to rise to the occasion, as I always do. That being said, if our weaknesses are exposed again, it will be ugly and this chat board will be lit-up for days. I understand the feelings of Ben holding the ball too long, but if not for his maneuvering, he would get killed and the team would not be a perennial contender. The line needs upgrading and this has been an issue for years now. DrGeorge made a valid point about the team success with a shuffling line, but they win in spite of it and because of Ben’s size and strength.Who would have thought that Willie Gay is not the hot-topic the last 2 games? Legursky and Scott have picked up the slack and now have the bulls-eye! If Tomlin isnt on the phone today in an effort to woo Adams/Starks back, I hope he has an ace up his sleeve! Maybe Tunch Ilken and Craig Wolfley can play next week? They could NOT be any worse than what we saw last night.

    • jay

      September 27, 2011 at 6:53 am

      Mark, Prediction: Steelers 14, Texans 27.

      • mark

        September 27, 2011 at 7:08 am

        Sounds about right, although I think the Steelers can muster 20 out of what we have.


    September 27, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    It could get ugly for the Steelers this week, especially if Mario Williams is playing. The O-Line has the specs and the potential to be effective, the coaching staff just needs to heavily focus on preparing for this week.

    What the Steelers really need to focus on this week is improving the run defense, especially with Arian Foster coming back. He’s gonna be hungry since he’s been out and has the potential for a big game.

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