Tha Sports Junkies 101

Steelers Get Back On Top of AFC North With Thanksgiving Win – Week 12 Recap

Steelers top kabsport via flickr


The Pittsburgh Steelers get back on top of the AFC North with a win on Thanksgiving over the Indianapolis Colts.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have only won on Thanksgiving once in franchise history. But with a rare win on Thanksgiving over the Indianapolis Colts, the Steelers find themselves back on top of the AFC North. The Colts were without their starting quarterback Andrew Luck, and the Steelers defense brought pressure all game against Scott Tolzien.

The Steelers had a chance to win two games in a row for the first time since week 5, and get back on top of the division for the first time since they lost to the Baltimore Ravens. The team came together for a nearly flawless primetime performance, and won in every phase of the game. Mike Tomlin knows that wins are not easy to come by in this league, and that every single victory must be appreciated.

“Good win for us on a short week on the road. We don’t take it for granted, we appreciate it, but it was much needed. We got contributions from a lot of guys. Really appreciate the efforts of the men tonight. It’s great to be in the clubhouse with the necessary win for the week.”

Ben Roethlisberger talked this week about how important it is for guys not named Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown to step up and make plays, but in this game the Steelers didn’t need anybody else. Ben Roethlisberger finished the day 14/20 for 221 yards, three touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 146.0. All three of Roethlisberger‘s touchdowns went to his favorite target Antonio Brown, who had 5 receptions for 91 yards. The only other player to score a touchdown was running back Le’Veon Bell, who finished the day with 23 carries, 4 receptions, and 142 all-purpose yards.

The reason why the Steelers were able to get everything they wanted on offense was because of the incredible play by the offensive line. In every game this season, Alejandro Villanueva, Marcus Gilbert, and Maurkice Pouncey have finished among the top five offensive grades for Pro Football Focus. This week was no different, as they were able to keep Roethlisberger from being sacked at all, and only allowed pressure three times throughout the entire game. The Steelers also used fullback Roosevelt Nix on 15 run plays that opened up many lanes for Le’Veon Bell to patiently run through.

Even though the Steelers offense dominated the Colts defense, the unit that deserves the game ball is the defense. Coming off of a game where they sacked the Cleveland Brown‘s quarterback eight times, they found a way to improve on that performance with their incredible goal line stands. With a mixture of youth and injuries in the Steelers front seven, Keith Butler had to get creative with his play-calling. On the first offensive play of the game for the Colts, Butler dialed up a corner blitz where William Gay came in untouched and forced a fumble on Scott Tolzien.

NFL Tickets

With the Steelers holding a 21-7 lead in the end of the second quarter, the Colts found themselves with a 1st and goal situation from the two-yard line. The first two plays was pure power football with Frank Gore running up the middle, only to be denied a score by Sean Davis and Ricardo Mathews. On third down, Scott Tolzien tried to take it himself but ran into a wall when rookie safety Sean Davis met him head up at the goal line. With the Steelers offense scoring at will, the Colts decided to throw the ball on fourth down, only to be denied once again when Mike Mitchell laid a perfect hit that knocked the ball loose and gave the Steelers offense the football back.

But that beautiful goal line stand would not be the only one of the game. The Colts pushed the ball down the field in the second half for a nearly perfect drive that took up more than 11 minutes off of the clock, a long time for the Steelers defense to be on the field. But this drive ended all too similar as the one before. The first plays were power football, and again the Steelers front seven held their ground. The next play was, again, Scott Tolzien getting crushed by a safety, only this time it was Mike Mitchell. And on fourth down, the secondary forced a tough throw that couldn’t be hauled in by Phillip Dorsett, and the defense gave the ball back to the offense on another turnover-on-downs.

The next two Colts drives would be halted by interceptions by Mike Mitchell and William Gay. The Steelers are now +4 on the season in the turnover ratio. In the postgame on-field interview, it was Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell who were eating the turkey legs, but Mike Mitchell was the one who was truly feasting all day.

“It was definitely a big win for [our defense] . . . And yeah, I always try to hunt the football. Everyone knows I’m a hitter, but when I can get a play on the ball I will. We just got to continue to work as a group.”

The Steelers have now defeated the Colts four consecutive times dating back to 2011. Ben Roethlisberger‘s statistics in those games are indescribable with 1,471 yards, 14 touchdowns, one interception, and has only been sacked three times. The Steelers hope they can stay on top with another win like they got on Thanksgiving when the red hot New York Giants travel to Pittsburgh in what could possibly be the best game of the day, and one of the best of the NFL season.

Statistics and quotes referenced via Pittsburgh Steelers media guide.