After Review: Steelers 23 at Colts 20

Dwight Freeney lines up against a Steelers offensive line he terrorized in a losing effort at home against the Steelers. (Michael Conroy | AP Photo)

Well, to say that the Colts losing to the visiting Steelers by a 3-point last second field goal in the fourth quarter was a surprise, would be an understatement. The offense has been anemic without Peyton Manning under center, and for the most part that did not change.

The rushing offense is still impressive. Backs Joseph Addai and Delone Carter combined for 97 yards on 21 carries, a 4.6 yards per carry clip. The offense drove 80 yards in the fourth quarter with Curtis Painter taking snaps and capped that drive with a 6-yard Joseph Addai touchdown run.

The score? 20-20. The problem? There was just over 2 minutes remaining for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense to drive for a win.Even though Pittsburgh managed to move the ball down the field for a game-winning 38-yard field goal, the defense played a solid game. One big play, a pass down the middle of the field to deep threat Mike Wallace, was the biggest breakdown of the game.

The rest of the defensive effort? Rashard Mendenhall, Ben Roethlisberger, Mewelde Moore, and Isaac Redman combined for 67 yards on 28 carries. This is a terrible 2.4 yards per carry average.

On the season? The Colts defense has allowed 340 yards on 103 carries, a 3.3 yards per carry average. That’s right, the Colts run defense is respectable.

113 yards a game isn’t great, but much of the high average is due to a poor defensive effort Week 1 against the Texans, and one 24-yard run given up to Peyton Hillis late in the Browns game a week ago.

The defense generated three turnovers, one was taken back for a touchdown. Freeney and Mathis combined for three sacks, including a strip sack apiece (they combined for five quarterback hits). Undrafted rookie safety Joe Lefeged added an interception, which he returned 25 yards.

Second-year middle linebacker Pat Angerer? 21 tackles. No, that is not a typo. Angerer was all over the field making plays. He worked with Philip Wheeler and Kavell Conner to have a second-consecutive impressive game.

The pair added 15 tackles, 5 and 10 respectively. 2 of Conner’s 10 tackles were for a loss.

While rookie defensive tackle Drake Nevis only tallied 3 tackles, his presence on the field was much larger than his presence on the stat sheet. He was a disruptive force against the run and the pass, and a positive sign for the development of the Indianapolis defensive tackle rotation.

For the game, the defense allowed 16 points. Pittsburgh played in the Super Bowl in 2010. A great effort.

The most positive offensive sign is that when Kerry Collins went down with a concussion, and after Curtis Painter had his repeat moment from the Week 16 Jets game  from 2009, there were signs of functional life. Painter connected with Garcon on two passes that were well-timed, well-delivered, and difficult to defend.

If Painter can build on the positives from his performance and build some confidence, he could have some successful offensive drive in the near future. Those positive offensive drives, paired with a mistake causing and capitalizing defense could translate into some wins against susceptible opponents like Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Tennessee, and Jacksonville — five of opponents over the next seven weeks.

Will the Colts be able to build on the home effort against Pittsburgh? Only time will tell. So far the team has improved each week. A positive sign.