Coming out of the bye week, conventional wisdom would say the Pittsburgh Steelers would be fresh. This was false, as the Steelers came out flat against the 3-6 Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis. Luckily, the Steelers were able to squeeze out a 20-17 victory over the Colts in week 10. The win was not without its issues, with the Steelers not seeing a lead until the final second. However, the offense survived early struggle, the defense held on, and star players shined. Through it all, the Steelers moved to 7-2 and still have their stranglehold on the AFC North.

The offense was dormant for the majority of this game, which has been a problem. Pittsburgh’s two losses have clearly been on the offense, and Sunday’s close call is also on them. The game’s first drive saw Ben Roethlisberger underthrow Martavis Bryant on a deep ball and get intercepted. Roethlisberger has not looked sharp all year, especially with the deep ball. The call was not wise, especially for it to go to Bryant who barely attempted to catch the ball. The offensive struggles continued, with Pittsburgh’s only two touchdowns coming in the second half.

Offense Struggles to Get Going

The numbers haven’t been particularly impressive for the offense this year. There have been times when the offense has looked good, but they’ve been few and far between. The Steelers were just five for 13 on third down conversions, which has been an issue all season.

Another issue on Sunday was that Pittsburgh passed more than they ran. Roethlisberger threw 31 passes while Le’Veon Bell had only 26 carries. The trend this season for the offense to look good has been to be run first. This continued on Sunday, with the offense looking lost without an established run game.

Defense Gets the Job Done

The defense, while not impressive, got the job done once again. While the offense struggled to figure it out, the defense kept the game close. There were two plays in which the defense broke down completely. These two plays resulted in touchdowns of 60 and 61 yards, the Colts only two touchdowns. Other than these plays, the defense held down the fort, only giving up 267 total yards. Even after losing Joe Haden and Mike Mitchell, the defense got the job done. While Mitchell will return, Haden is out indefinitely, meaning Pittsburgh’s defense will have to survive without him.

Stars Show Up Late

It is typically a bad sign when your star players under perform to start a game. Luckily, Pittsburgh’s stars came around to help secure the victory. Early in the game, Ryan Shazier missed a few uncharacteristic tackles. However, late in the game Shazier made up for his early mistakes with an incredible interception of Jacoby Brissett.

In a similar way, Antonio Brown also avenged early game woes. Brown dropped a deep pass from Roethlisberger early and was quiet throughout the game. However, Brown caught the pass with 35 seconds left to set up the game winning field goal.

Looking Ahead

The Steelers move to 7-2 with the win, and hold a commanding three game lead on the rest of the division. Looking ahead, the Steelers face the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football. Much like past weeks, the game plan should be to be run first. Coming off a short week, expect James Conner to get more carries. This is a winnable game for Pittsburgh, but also one they could lose if they come out flat again.

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