Ben Roethlisberger tallied 342 yards and threw three touchdown passes in the second half, helping the Pittsburgh Steelers secure the North American Division title with a 28-24 victory over the Colts. ‘Indianapolis, Sunday.
As their momentum was dampened by a three-game losing streak after starting the campaign with 11 straight wins, the Steelers (12-3) finally found their bearings in the last 25 minutes of play against the Colts (10- 5). They wasted an opportunity to find themselves in good shape in the playoff race by slipping a 17-point lead in the third quarter.
Roethlisberger, who has seen ups and downs in recent weeks, has regained his touch of heyday.
“Sometimes you need a little electric shock to regain your confidence in your means,” Roethlisberger said.
The 38-year-old quarterback started the comeback with a 39-yard pass to Diontae Johnson and brought the Steelers back to a touchdown from their rivals with a five-yard pass to Eric Ebron. He then offered the Steelers a game-long second half lead for the first time since Dec. 7, when he threaded the needle between two Colts players to join JuJu Smith-Schuster on 25 yards with 7:38 to make.
The Colts, who led the Steelers 206-28 in offensive gains in the first half, had two opportunities to regain the lead in the fourth quarter. The first streak ended when Philip Rivers suffered an interception in Steelers territory. The second was hampered when Rivers was unable to catch up with Zach Pascal on a fourth try.
Rivers completed 22 of his 35 passes for 270 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Running back Jonathan Taylor racked up 74 rushing yards and two majors, but was ineffective in the second half.
The win ended the Steelers’ slide, going undefeated for the first three months of the season. Their cohesion had broken down by December and injuries had particularly affected the linebacker squad. The troubles of the attack on the ground had also increased the pressure on Roethlisberger.
Still, head coach Mike Tomlin insisted that no one was in panic in his camp and that the team was on the verge of recovering.
“The line is sometimes thin between victory and defeat,” Tomlin recalled.
The nightmare looked set to continue when the Colts led 24-7. But a long pass from Roethlisberger picked up by Johnson while diving whipped the Steelers. An hour later, they left the field with a first section title since 2017 in their pocket.
“We’ve been through some adversity lately, but we’re in an environment where you always have to fight,” said Tomlin. You have to keep smiling even when you are in the face of adversity and that is what we have done. “
For their part, the Colts could be excluded from the playoffs even with a victory next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Colts head coach Frank Reich. When the stakes were high, we were unable to respond in the second half. I’m not going to question the coaches or the players. We had a bad game, a bad half, and we weren’t able to close the door. We need to learn our lesson, be better next week, and get some help. “
Johnson crosses the end zone with a dive please!
Smith-Schuster with the 25 yard touchdown!