Defensive goal-line stands hold off Colts

Steelers break on through to the winning side with pair of road wins four days apart.

It was a breakthrough night of sorts for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who defeated the Indianapolis Colts, 28-7.

It was the Steelers' first Thanksgiving win in 66 years, the second of eight such scheduled games.

The win also marked the first time in two years the Steelers have won back-to-back road games.

It's also believed to be the first time the Steelers have ever won two road games four days apart. The closest they had come -- at least since the merger -- was six days apart in December of 2005 and November of 1975.

Even in 1950, when the Steelers last won on Thanksgiving, the league was considerate enough to bookend that away game with home games 11 and 10 days apart.

But the Steelers beat the odds, the league, and, it must be mentioned, a couple of bad teams in completing the At Cleveland/At Indianapolis sweep on Thanksgiving night.

The win moved the Steelers into at least a temporary place on top of the AFC North standings with a 6-5 record.

The 5-5 Baltimore Ravens host the 3-6-1 Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. A win would nudge the Ravens back to the top due to a win over the Steelers earlier in the season at Baltimore.

"Good win for us on a short week on the road," said Mike Tomlin, who listed the injured as FS Mike Mitchell with a stinger, LG Ramon Foster with an ankle and NT Javon Hargrave with a hand. Tomlin categorized them as "bumps and bruises."

Tomlin credited Mitchell and his rookie sidekick, Sean Davis, as the key figures behind two goal-line stands that highlighted the Steelers' defensive effort.

The Steelers allowed the Colts and fill-in quarterback Scott Tolzien 310 yards of total offense and only one touchdown, thanks to the stands that occurred on back-to-back Colts possessions around the halftime break.

A 32-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton set the Colts up with a first-and-goal at the 3 with 3:18 remaining in the first half.

On first down, Jarvis Jones got underneath a pile-up to cause a stop of Frank Gore, and then Ryan Shazier hit Gore in the backfield to result in a gain of one on second down. On third down, Davis tackled a rolling Tolzien in the open field just short of the goal line. And on fourth down, Mitchell hit Chester Rogers as he was trying to reel in a juggled pass in the end zone to preserve a 21-7 Steelers lead at the break.

The Colts had a first-and-goal at the 6 on their first possession of the second half, and again were thwarted in four plays:

* Robert Turbin was held to two yards by Lawrence Timmons.

* Gore was stopped after two more yards by Shazier and Stephon Tuitt.

* Tolzien scrambled up the middle and was met head-on by Mitchell at the 1.

* Phillip Dorsett dropped a pass in the end zone.

The Steelers scored two possessions later to put the game away, and that touchdown was another first: The 22-yard Ben Roethlisberger-to-Antonio Brown touchdown pass was the third for Brown, the first time in his brilliant career he had ever caught three touchdown passes in one game.

The other touchdown catches by Brown were 25 and 33 yards. He finished the game with 5 catches for 91 yards.

Le'Veon Bell scored the first Steelers touchdown on a 5-yard run. Bell finished the game with 120 yards rushing on 23 carries. He caught 2 passes for 67 yards as well.

Roethlisberger completed 14 of 22 passes for 221 yards and had a passer rating of 146.0. He wasn't sacked, and in fact the offensive line allowed him to be hit only one time, that by blitzing safety T.J. Green.

The Steelers held Tolzien -- the replacement for the concussed Andrew Luck -- to a passer rating of 62.8 and the Colts running game to 91 yards on 23 carries (4.0).

Mitchell and William Gay had interceptions for the Steelers while Timmons led the way with 10 tackles. Gay, James Harrison and Hargrave had sacks for the Steelers.

Of course, the goal-line stands were the defense's coup de grace.

"More than anything it was two nice plays by safeties," Tomlin said. "One instance Sean Davis -- the quarterback was scrambling -- made the definitive decision to come out of coverage and make a tackle. I think the other one was Mike Mitchell in a similar way. Those are two significant plays from pass defenders first to come out of coverage there and combat the quarterback. Those were significant plays. You get significant plays like that and you get a chance to have a stand."

"That changed the whole dimension of the game," said Bell. "That could easily be 28-21 at the end of the game. I think those guys – they played well. They’re the bend-but-don’t-break D and that’s what you want."


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