Wilson's Word: Take better care of the ball

Much will be made of the Colts' injuries entering Sunday's game at Pittsburgh, but this matchup boils down to the visitor's offense minimizing its tendency for turnovers.

It’s understood that injuries are part of the NFL, but don’t get distracted by popular talking points about who won’t be able to suit up for the Indianapolis Colts Sunday at Pittsburgh.

Another common reality is that turnovers typically determine outcomes. Turn the ball over more than the other team and it’s usually an “L.”

That’s what the Colts should concern themselves with more when facing the Steelers.

Much will be made about wide receiver Reggie Wayne sitting this one out with a sore elbow. And it’s possible running back Trent Richardson might not play due to a hamstring issue.

T-Rich hasn’t practiced this week, but has been doing work on the side. Even if he goes, the Colts won’t risk his injury getting worse with an immense workload. That means more of Ahmad Bradshaw with Daniel “Boom” Herron getting snaps.

As for wide receiver, Wayne is an undisputed locker leader, but the Colts are deep in pass catchers. T.Y. Hilton has been incredible. Hakeem Nicks is more than motivated to step in. Donte Moncrief hasn’t looked like a rookie when he’s been given the chance to show his promising ability.

And the Colts will utilize the running backs as well as tight ends Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener and Jack Doyle to keep that No. 1 passing attack humming.

So, again, the Colts’ bid to win a sixth consecutive game against an opportunistic Steelers squad still comes down to turnovers. That’s because the Colts, while piling up points and yards and dominating as the league’s No. 1 team in time of possession, have turned the ball over a bit too much.

That’s not nitpicking. It’s just a fact. Andrew Luck has been intercepted seven times and opponents have recovered six Colts fumbles.

The 13 turnovers are one shy of this team’s total for the entire 2013 season. And when Sunday ends, the Colts will have played just half a season.

Granted, mistakes happen. Passes get tipped at the line of scrimmage or down the field and anything goes after that. The Houston Texans had that happen Monday night.

A fumble near the Texans’ goal line quickly became a Steelers touchdown. A pass that deflected off a defender was intercepted and returned inside the 10, and Pittsburgh cashed that in as well.

Just like that, in a game where the Texans looked dominant with a 13-0 lead, they were trailing 24-13 at halftime. And they didn’t recover.

The Steelers have had their issues on defense. They’re struggling to get pressure on passers. They’ve been torched at times, at Baltimore and at Cleveland. This isn’t the same defense we’re used to seeing in the Steel City.

But turn the ball over and that gives the home team every chance to win.

The Colts’ defense, of course, can have a say in this as well. The Colts’ blitzing 3-4 scheme has produced 20 sacks in the last five games. Pass rushers will be looking to get heat on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but the Colts realize pressure isn’t enough. No quarterback in the NFL takes more hits and still gets the pass away than “Big Ben.” He’s a load to bring down and doesn’t rattle.

So while it would be ideal to get the Steelers to turn the ball over themselves, you hope they make mistakes with some solid Colts pressure but that doesn’t mean turnovers are a given.

Bottom line, just don’t make it easier on these guys. They’ve been as up-and-down as any team in the league. The Steelers’ pattern has been win one, lose one through a 4-3 record. Remember, Pittsburgh somehow lost at home to Tampa Bay.

If the Colts take care of the ball on Sunday, the Steelers’ seasonal win-loss trend should continue.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.


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