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Week 9 Game Recap: Indianapolis Colts 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 26


What you need to know

Indianapolis Colts

Jacoby Brissett left the game with a knee injury and did not return giving way to Brian Hoyer. Hoyer played well at times against the Steelers but threw an ugly interception and struggled with his pocket awareness. Hoyer did make some nice throws and gave the Colts a chance to win the game. Zach Pascal stepped up and made some huge plays with TY Hilton out of the lineup. Pascal looked like a number one receiver with his ability to win contested catches and make plays downfield. Marlon Mack was the Colts' most consistent source of offense. Mack kept the Colts on track with his tough running. Parris Campbell made a few nice plays and could have had a touchdown if he had not slipped. Hoyer looked to Jack Doyle a number of times early but failed to find him later in the game.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The closing minutes of the game, with the score 24-26, the Steelers were called for a questionable 35-yard defensive pass interference play which brought the Colts within field goal range. After missing two field goals last week and one kick being blocked already the week, the Steelers were gifted a shanked kick, wide left, and their narrowest victory of the season. This game, like Week 8 for the Steelers, started with an opening drive turnover, giving the Colts great field position and being down quickly. The offense was no little help to the Steelers. Offensive Coordinator, Randy Fichter’s, ultra conservative game script led to checking the ball down for most of the game and Mason Rudolph averaging 5.5 yards per attempt. Nevertheless, the defense and Chris Boswell stepped up. Minkah Fitzpatrick had a 96-yard touchdown on a pass which could have been tight end Jack Doyle’s second of the day and Chris Boswell was 4-4 on field goal attempts.

Indianapolis Colts

QB Brian Hoyer, 56 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 26 - 168 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0
Brian Hoyer entered the game in relief of an injured Jacoby Brissett. Hoyer played well outside of a few sacks and two turnovers. Hoyer made some nice throws and gave the Colts a chance to win. Hoyer found Jack Doyle on a double move over the middle for an 11 yard touchdown on his first throw of the game. Hoyer and the Colts moved into the red zone relying mostly on their running game. Hoyer targeted Jack Doyle down the seam and was intercepted by Minkah FItzpatrick who took the interception 96 yards for a touchdown. Hoyer never saw Fitzpatrick on the play and threw the ball right to him. Hoyer responded well to the interception leading the Colts down the field for a touchdown before halftime. Hoyer capped the drive with a 14 yard strike down the seam to Zach Pascal on what was Hoyer's best throw of the game. Hoyer made another great throw to Pascal this time along the sideline where only Pascal could catch the pass for 17 yards on 3rd and 19. After converting the 4th down the Colts decided to go for it again on 4th down a few plays later. Hoyer failed to feel the rush and was stripped from behind for another turnover. The Colts took over in great field position following a fumble trailing by 5 and scored a touchdown. On 4th and 2 Hoyer found Chester Rogers wide open in the back of the end zone for a 4 yard touchdown. Trailing by 2 Hoyer put the Colts in position to win the game with an outstanding back shoulder throw to Zach Pascal. However, Vinatieri missed the game winning field goal.

QB Jacoby Brissett, 15 offensive snaps, Pass: 4 - 5 - 59 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0
Jacoby Brissett and the Colts settled for a field goal after taking over at Pittsburgh's 35 yard line. The offense looked out of sync and Brissett faced a lot of pressure early. Brissett moved the Colts into the red zone with completions to Zach Pascal and Parris Campbell but left the game with a knee injury after one of his offensive lineman fell into his lead leg. Brissett is believed to have an MCL injury and did not return to the game.

RB Marlon Mack, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 21 - 89 - 0
Marlon Mack kept the Colts offense on schedule against the Steelers. Mack consistently gained positive yardage even with the Steelers loading up the box. Mack did break into the open field for a big gain one time and had a number of nice runs that went for 5+ yards. Mack made a defender miss on most of his carries. Mack followed a pulling Quenton Nelson around the edge and picked up 24 yards down the sideline. Mack made Mike Hilton whiff on a tackle to pick up 9 yards on a 3rd and 1. Mack is consistent and productive which Frank Reich seems to value.

WR Parris Campbell, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 27 - 0, Rec: 5 - 53 - 0 (5 targets)
Parris Campbell made some nice plays on the edge and showed off his blinding speed. Campbell made a catch in the flat made a man miss and was on his way to scoring a 34 yard touchdown but he slipped, fell, and fumbled the ball out of bounds after a 27 yard gain. Campbell made an 8 yard catch running an in route. Campbell came wide open running a shallow crossing route and escaped down the sideline for 16. After the game it was revealed that he suffered a broken hand and will be out for multiple weeks.

WR Zach Pascal, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 76 - 1 (6 targets)
Zach Pascal was the offensive star for the Colts. Pascal made some great plays and kept the Colts in this game. Almost all of the Colts successful downfield throws were to Pascal. Pascal made his first catch for 8 yards running a curl on the Colts' first offensive play. Pascal made an 18 yard catch along the sideline working back to Brissett after initially being covered downfield. Campbell picked up 22 yards running a reverse. The play was very blocked but Campbell looked like he was moving at a different speed than defenders. Pascal ran a skinny post from the slot and beat two defenders to secure a 14 yard touchdown catch. Pascal showed strong hands securing the high pass. Pascal made an outstanding sideline catch for 17 yards on 3rd and 19. Pascal made the catch look routine despite the high degree of difficulty. Pascal drew a 35 yard pass interference penalty on what was a questionable call. Pascal then made an outstanding side line catch on a back shoulder throw for 19 yards. Pascal showed outstanding hands and body awareness to get both feet inbounds. The catch and penalty set up a game winning field goal opportunity.

TE Jack Doyle, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 22 - 1 (4 targets)
Jack Doyle caught two passes from Hoyer when he first entered the game but did not see targets later in the game. Doyle gave Devin Bush a nice double move over the middle to score an 11 yard touchdown on his first reception. Doyle made a 6 yard catch running a curl over the middle.

TE Eric Ebron, 24 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (2 targets)
Eric Ebron hardly saw any looks from Brian Hoyer. Ebron converted a 3rd and 6 with a 7 yard reception. Ebron fought off his defender long enough to pick up the first down. Ebron picked up 9 yards on a dump off in the flat from Hoyer.


Pittsburgh Steelers

QB Mason Rudolph, 63 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 35 - 191 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 5 - 0
Wins are not a quarterback stat, but Mason Rudolph should take what he can get. In Week 9, Rudolph started strong with his first pass of the game being delivered in rhythm on a slant route to Juju Smith-Schuster. His second pass of the game to Smith-Schuster was deep down the left side. If it weren’t for blanket coverage by the defense the pass would have been a touchdown. Unfortunately, the third target to Smith-Schuster on the opening drive went right through Smith-Schuster’s hands and was intercepted. For the remainder of the game, passes were primarily close to the line of scrimmage with the idea of letting playmakers make plays after the catch and not to risk throwing the ball downfield. Mason Rudolph’s single passing touchdown of the game came in such a manner. Rudolph delivered a pass on time to Vance McDonald as he was turning around. This allowed McDonald to shield the defenders from the ball and for McDonald to gain just enough to push in the endzone for a touchdown. While Rudolph’s stat line isn’t packed for Week 9 it needs to be noted the poise he played with. Rudolph stepped up in the pocket and wasn’t afraid to take the big hit and deliver an accurate pass. Even Rudolph’s safety shouldn’t be completely blamed on him. Rudolph was standing tall in the pocket when the offensive line was being pushed back and Rudolph tried to escape. There was no where for him to go and he had to take the safety. Luckily, on the punt after the safety, the Colts fumbled the ball and the Steelers were able to kick a field goal.

RB Jaylen Samuels, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 10 - 0, Rec: 13 - 73 - 0 (13 targets)
It can be considered a rough night for a running back when the running back totals ten yards rushing on eight total rushing attempts. Further, it could be even worse if one of those attempts was for six yards (leaving four total yards for the remaining seven attempts). Luckily, Samuels is as versatile as they come. While things were not working for him between the tackles, Samuels was running crisp routes, splitting out wide and being an outlet for Mason Rudolph when he was in trouble. Samuels did have one miscue. On a play with the ball in Samuels’ hands, a defender was able to put his helmet on the ball and knock it lose. The ball was turned over and ultimately led to the Colts scoring a touchdown to put them up by one point.

RB Trey Edmunds, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 73 - 0
The Steelers are now running a two running back set and whoever is the second running back is doing well. In Week 9, Edmunds got the run and showed some good ability. He did not display agility or overt athleticism or vision. Edmunds showed good play strength and toughness between the tackles. On Edmunds’ first run of the game, and his career, he went for 45-yards. The rush went to the right side of the line where there was a gaping hole. Edmunds accelerated well through the line of scrimmage and was able to finish the run strong. While Edmunds filled in admirably for his injured backfield mates, he isn’t stealing anyone’s job.

WR James Washington, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 69 - 0 (4 targets)
There weren’t many shots downfield or highlight plays, but James Washington had two of them. On the second possession of the game Washington ran a comeback route to convert a third down. The ball looked like it was about to fall pop out of Washington’s hands for the second straight week. Fortunately, Washington showed impressive hand eye coordination and land on the ball. Also, on one of the rare throws of over ten yards, Mason Rudolph was hit as he threw the ball and sent a lame duck pass downfield. Washington made a good play in front of a defender and brought in a contested catch. Without that reception Rudolph would have passed for under 150 yards on the day.

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 16 - 0 (5 targets)
This looked like it was going to be a high-volume Smith-Schuster after three of Mason Rudolph’s targets on the first drive went to him. Smith-Schuster’s first reception was on a perfect slant where Smith-Schuster was able to split the defenders. Smith-Schuster’s second target was deep down the field. The coverage was perfect and there wasn’t a catch to be made, but it was a good sign the Steelers were game planning those deeper shots. Unfortunately, on the third target, the ball went through Smith-Schuster’s hands and was intercepted. For the rest of the game the Steelers shifted to an ultra-conservative game script. In fact, Smith-Schuster didn’t see another touch until the third quarter of the game when the Steelers used a slow developing play to move the pocket. When the pocket was moving Rudolph passed the ball to Smith-Schuster where there was no space for him to turn up field.

WR Diontae Johnson, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (2 targets)
With a conservative game script comes not many opportunities to make plays. On one snap, the offense tried to get Johnson involved on an end around. The play went for five yards and was the last time Johnson touched the ball all game.

TE Vance McDonald, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 30 - 1 (7 targets)
With Mason Rudolph pass plays stay close to the line of scrimmage and playmakers will be left to work on their own. McDonald does well in those situations. In the third quarter, after recovering a fumble from the Colts. The Steelers were marching down the field. On third and goal at the seven-yard line, Rudolph finds McDonald right in front of the end zone. Because of where the pass was delivered, McDonald shields the ball from the defenders and lunges for the only offensive touchdown of the evening.