Steelers do it their own way
If legendary baseball announcer Bob Prince was doing the play-by-play on the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, that is undoubtedly what he would have exclaimed in the game’s final seconds.
Prince wouldn’t have let the Colts’ Adam Vinatieri’s badly hooked 43-yard field goal try in the final minute damper his patented call. While Vinatieri will be the one blamed for the errant try, a closer look at the replay showed that the snap was high, and holder Rigoberto Sanchez put the ball down with the laces facing Vinatieri, which will cause the ball to hook.
It really didn’t matter how the Steelers won. It just mattered that they won.
Back in September when the Steelers traded their 2020 first round pick to the Miami Dolphins for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, there was an outcry from the “experts” that this was a bad move by the Steelers. The Steelers probably wish that all their trades were this bad. Fitzpatrick has intercepted four passes in six games, including a game-turning 96-yard interception return for a touchdown, tying the game at 10-10, instead of being down 17-3.
Fitzpatrick’s attitude of separating opponents from the ball has carried over to his teammates. The Steelers have now forced 22 turnovers on the season, second best in the league. Fitzpatrick has been directly involved in five of them (four interceptions and one forced fumble). Plus, he wasn’t acquired until after the second game.
The last time the Steelers defense had forced 22 turnovers through their first eight games was in 1996.
There were a number of overlooked plays that definitely affected the game’s outcome. One was when Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph was knocked loose from the football in his own end zone. The ball was laying on the ground for the Colts to fall on it for a touchdown. However, Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a member of Spain’s 16 & under rugby team during his youth, dove into the scrum and came out with the ball, resulting in a safety. Villaneuva’s maneuvering saved his team five points.
The ensuing free kick was the game’s next turning point. Ola Adeniyi separated the Colts returner from the ball and backup wide receiver Johnny Holton jumped on the loose ball, giving the Steelers the ball. Chris Boswell’s 33-yard field goal boosted the Steelers’ lead to 26-18.
Looking back, those five points that Villanueva saved were huge. The three points that came from Adeniyi’s hit and Holton’s fumble recovery were also huge.
The third play was when Vinatieri had an extra point attempt blocked by Cam Heyward in the second quarter. That blocked conversion kick forced the Colts to go for two when they scored In the fourth quarter. If Vinatieri had made the earlier point after kick, the Colts would have gone for one, instead of two on their last touchdown. If the Colts had made a conversion kick on each of those two kicks, the game would have been tied.
Steelers inactives were James Conner (shoulder), Benny Snell, Jr. (meniscus surgery), Ramon Foster (concussion), Justin Layne, L.T. Walton, Paxton Lynch and Zach Gentry.
Bud Dupree was a force at right outside linebacker. Dupree had three tackles (two for losses), three quarterback hits, two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Running back Jaylen Samuels’ 13 receptions were the most by a Steelers running back in franchise history. Le’Veon Bell snagged 12 versus Green Bay in 2017.
Boswell was four-for-four on field goals (21, 51, 33 and 26). The 51-yarder just before the half was the result of a Colts penalty.
Trey Edmunds, who was signed off the practice squad in the second week in October, led the rushing attack with 73 yards on 12 carries, including a 45-yard scamper.
Fitzpatrick’s 96-yard interception return is the second longest in team history. Martin Kottler’s 99-yard return for a score on September 27, 1933, is the longest. That was the first year of the franchise’s existence.