UPDATED 8:25 PM SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2017
Pittsburgh sports reporters had their headlines ready for publication: “Steelers play down to competition again, get upset by Colts.”
The reporters, including this one, had their hand on the “Publish” button, all they had to do was press it.
But then, something happened – midway through the third quarter, the Steelers realized they were the Steelers, and the Indianapolis Colts realized they were the Colts. One team was 6-2, and regarded as possibly the best team in the AFC; the other was 3-6, without their star quarterback, and with no reservations for the postseason.
Thus, the Steelers began their comeback from a 17-3 deficit, and used two Ben Roethlisberger touchdown tosses, a two-point conversion caught by the formerly-secluded Martavis Bryant, and a 33-yard field goal by Chris Boswell on the game’s final play to beat the Colts, 20-17.
For a team that eyes the upcoming Super Bowl LII as its only acceptable destination, the Steelers, in the first half, looked more like a team headed to the Super Couch.
Roethlisberger’s second pass of the day was intercepted, while Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett found Donte Moncrief for a 60-yard touchdown on the second play of the second quarter. Moments later, the Colts kept the Steelers’ lackluster defense on the field for a 12-play drive, capped off by an Adam Vinatieri 48-yard field goal.
Boswell squeezed in a Steelers field goal before the half ended, but the Colts opened the second half with another splash play – 61 yards to Chester Rogers, touchdown Colts, fans in jubilation in the normally-tame Lucas Oil Stadium.
The replays of Chicago and Jacksonville were fresh on Steelers fans’ minds, two opponents that most fans believe the Steelers should have defeated. But the Nov. 12 game story ended the way Steelers fans had hoped. Roethlisberger found an open Juju Smith-Schuster for a 7-yard touchdown hookup to cut the deficit to 17-9 (blocked extra point). And moments into the fourth quarter, Ryan Shazier alertly intercepted a Brissett pass that tipped off a Colts player. With the Steelers deep in blue territory, Roethlisberger found Vance McDonald for a touchdown strike to make it a 17-15 contest. Then, with all eyes watching, the Steelers converted on the two-point try – from the 7 yard line, no less – with a bullet pass to Bryant.
The Steelers defense had been beaten for 2 huge touchdown plays, but limited the Colts to next to nothing in the final frame. That allowed the Steelers to possess the ball with three minutes left at their own 15 yard line. The game-winning drive featured nearly all of the Steelers’ weapons – first-down runs by Le’Veon Bell, receptions by Antonio Brown and Bryant, even Eli Rogers converting on a third-and-2, as he took the touch pass behind the line of scrimmage barely over the line-to-gain.
Seventy yards later, it was Boswell’s time. The sure-footed kicker who doinked a field goal attempt off the goal post earlier in the game, put this one squarely through the uprights for the Black and Gold victory, causing sports reporters all across Pittsburgh to rework their ledes.