Sunday, August 19, 2012
Observation deck: Steelers-Colts
By Jamison Hensley
It was another conservative showing by the Pittsburgh Steelers' offense in their 26-24 preseason victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
Emphasizing the run and a controlled passing attack, the Steelers' starting offense managed one score on four drives. It came off a wide receiver screen, which resulted in a 57-yard touchdown by Antonio Brown.
The Steelers clearly wanted to get their ground game going, running the ball on the first five plays of the game. And it's clear that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger feels most comfortable throwing to Brown. Five of his attempts (and his only ones to wide receivers) went to Brown, who took a short pass and weaved his way to the end zone like it was punt return.
Take away that touchdown throw and Roethlisberger was 4-of-8 for 24 yards and one interception.
Here are some other observations from the game:
- Ike Taylor put a lot of work into improving his hands this offseason and it paid off Sunday night. He jumped a route on the sideline and ran 49 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. But he did have some forgettable moments, from two missed tackles to a miscommunication with Troy Polamalu that should have resulted in a touchdown (Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton got behind the defense and then bobbled the pass, which was intercepted by Cortez Allen).
- The Steelers should feel more comfortable going with Jonathan Dwyer as their backup running back after Sunday night. He showed good vision and cutting ability in gaining 43 yards on eight carries. Dwyer broke two tackles on his first run of the game and then threw a good block on Chris Rainey's eight-yard gain on the first drive.
- On the one-yard touchdown allowed by the Steelers in the second quarter, linebackers Larry Foote and LaMarr Woodley have to get off blocks to make that tackle. Defensive end Ziggy Hood, who was active against the run, got double-teamed on that play.
- Chris Carter isn't James Harrison but he's much better than a typical third-string linebacker. He exploded to the ball and put himself in position to make plays. Carter just has to learn that he can't blatantly hold receivers like Reggie Wayne because it will draw a flag every time.
- And speaking of Harrison, this is what head coach Mike Tomlin said about his Pro Bowl linebacker's chances of playing in the season opener after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery: "I'm always optimistic. That doesn't necessarily mean he's going to be ready. We're just taking it day to day and we're going to let his recuperation dictate how we proceed. He's always been a fast healer and we'll keep that attitude."
- When the Steelers went with their second-team offense, it was Charlie Batch and not Byron Leftwich who came in at quarterback. Batch completed 7 of 10 passes for 84 yards. Leftwich didn't get into the game.
- Rainey looks like he can break free for a touchdown every time he touches the ball. His size is a concern, and that had to cross your mind when Rainey coughed up the ball on that rough hit. He has to hold onto the ball better.