Final

Colts 10

(4-2, 2-1 away)

Steelers 28

(3-3, 2-1 home)

Coverage: ABC

9:00 PM ET, October 21, 2002

 

1 2 3 4 T
IND 0 3 7 010
PIT 14 7 7 028

Steelers starting to turn corner

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Benching Kordell Stewart for journeyman Tommy Maddox three games into the season seemed like an act of desperation. It might be the best move Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher could have made.

Pittsburgh's Brent Alexander sacks Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning in the second quarter.

Maddox threw two touchdown passes to Hines Ward to lead the Steelers to a 28-10 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night, looking as sharp and steady as a 10-year veteran rather than a quarterback who has barely played in the NFL since 1992.

"I'm having the time of my life,'' said Maddox, the former XFL star. "I'm not only doing this, but doing this with this group of guys. We just want to keep this rolling.''

The Steelers were 0-2 and were heading toward what seemed to be a third straight loss until Maddox rallied them to a dramatic overtime victory over Cleveland. They have now won three of four.

"Now, you're seeing the real Steelers,'' Jerome Bettis said. "I won't say we've turned the corner, but we're right there at the stop light.''

Maddox's ability to spread the ball among his receivers has revitalized the offense and gotten a previously stalled running game going, Ward said.

"We were 0-2 and people were writing us off,'' Ward said. "It's great to redeem ourselves.''

Bettis scored on two short touchdown runs in the first half before leaving with a sprained left knee. Amos Zereoue replaced Bettis and ran for 87 yards, all in the second half. The Steelers also lost center Jeff Hartings to a left knee injury.

Hartings' injury is believed to be worse. Bettis said afterward he has no ligament damage, but would know more Tuesday.

The Steelers, who opened a 21-0 lead, also were helped by their special teams for a change rather than hurt by them. The complete performance helped Pittsburgh (3-3) start to resemble the team that went 13-3 a year ago and was favored to win the AFC this season.

The Colts (4-2) lost to Pittsburgh for the ninth straight time.

Terry Bradshaw, the Hall of Fame quarterback who became estranged from the Steelers over the years, made a triumphant return to thunderous cheers during a halftime ceremony. Maddox, who lives only a mile from Bradshaw in Dallas, did a more than adequate imitation of his neighbor by leading Pittsburgh to touchdowns on its first three possessions.

"We were able to score early, and the offensive line, wow, you just can't say enough about them,'' Maddox said.

The Steelers' defense, shredded in embarrassingly bad early season losses to New England and Oakland, was again the disruptive, playmaking force it was last season, helped by the return of linebacker Kendrell Bell. The Steelers constantly forced Peyton Manning into hurrying his passes, often slamming into him as he delivered the ball.

"He makes a lot of checkoffs at the line of scrimmage, and every time he made one, we made one, too,'' safety Lee Flowers said. "He's still a great quarterback, but he fell into a trap.''

Manning finished 32-of-48 for 304 yards, but he threw three interceptions, and Edgerrin James was ineffective, gaining only 62 yards on 20 carries.

Even after Indianapolis finally got into the end zone, on Manning's 41-yard completion off a play-action fake to tight end Marcus Pollard early in the third quarter, the Steelers' defense made a momentum-altering play.

Manning was driving the Colts with a chance to cut it to 21-17, but safety Mike Logan read Manning perfectly, staying just behind the line of scrimmage rather than dropping into coverage to intercept a pass thrown directly into his hands.

"They're a great defense and they did some things they hadn't shown before,'' Manning said. "I would like to have some of those throws back.''

Three plays after Logan's 41-yard return, Maddox hit Ward on a leaping catch over cornerback Nick Harper for a 14-yard touchdown.

Ward's first touchdown, a 17-yarder less than five minutes into the game on Pittsburgh's first possession, followed Joey Porter's partial block of Hunter Smith's punt.

The punt traveled only 3 yards, and Maddox went on to throw a 17-yard scoring pass to Ward. Ward fooled the defense by going in motion just ahead of the snap, resulting in a mismatch with 270-pound defensive end Chad Bratzke, who was five yards behind him by the time the ball arrived.

"We're self-destructing a little, and we've got to eliminate that,'' Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "We need to move the ball better and score. We've got guys who can make plays, but first you've got to et everybody comfortable.''

Maddox finished 15-of-23 for 188 yards as the Steelers mostly stayed on the ground after building the big lead.

Game notes


Bettis left after gaining 33 yards on 11 carries, leaving him 35 yards behind O.J. Simpson for 11th place on the NFL career rushing list. ... The Colts are 0-12 in Pittsburgh, last winning there in 1968. ... Pittsburgh came into the game 0-3 against teams with winning records. ... The Colts, one of the NFL's best offenses last season, have scored only two touchdowns in their last two games.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Scoring Summary

THIRD QUARTERINDPIT
pitTD6:10Touchdown
Drive info: 3 plays, 19 yds, 0:-09
1027
indTD11:55Touchdown
Drive info: 4 plays, 52 yds, 2:03
921
pit5:48
Drive info: 3 plays, 19 yds, 0:-09
1028
ind11:38
Drive info: 4 plays, 52 yds, 2:03
1021
FIRST QUARTERINDPIT
pitTD10:35Touchdown
Drive info: 6 plays, 41 yds, 2:16
06
pit10:19
Drive info: 6 plays, 41 yds, 2:16
07
SECOND QUARTERINDPIT
pitTD7:45Jerome Bettis, 5 yd run
Drive info: 8 plays, 70 yds, 3:36
020
pit7:35
Drive info: 8 plays, 70 yds, 3:36
021
FIRST QUARTERINDPIT
pitTD1:00Jerome Bettis, 3 yd run
Drive info: 11 plays, 80 yds, 5:00
013
SECOND QUARTERINDPIT
indFG1:55Mike Vanderjagt 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 52 yds, 5:36
321
FIRST QUARTERINDPIT
pit0:45
Drive info: 11 plays, 80 yds, 5:00
014