” NO ANSWERS: However, once the Colts built their lead, they began to see him collapse – and it didn’t seem like they could do anything about it. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger started a deep pass for wide receiver Diontae Johnson, who was designed for a 39-yard touchdown reception in the end zone and shortened the Colts’ lead to 24-14. After a three-and-off through the Indy offensive, Roethlisberger led the Pittsburgh offensive in five games by 74 yards and found the end zone with a touchdown pass of five yards to Eric Ebron, the former Colts Pro Bowl tight end , again lead to 24-21 with 14:57 left in the fourth quarter. The Colts couldn’t cross the 50-yard line on their next ride, and Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh crime were more than happy to take advantage of this again. At the tenth game of their next ride, on the 1st and 10th from the 25-yard line in Indianapolis, Roethlisberger, who was lined up in the shotgun, carried out a nifty pump forgery that frozen the safety of Tavon Wilson in its tracks and Smith-Schuster just enough room gave past security to Julian Blackmon in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown. By 7:43 in the fourth quarter, the Steelers had officially closed a 17-point deficit to take their first lead in the ball game, 28-24. The Colts couldn’t get back the rest of the way.
»PRIME OPPORTUNITY REMOVED: We’ll dive into the bigger implications of Sunday’s Colts defeat in a minute, but the Pittsburgh second-half collapse could hurt the most in the AFC South Division standings. The Colts and Titans faced the division 10-4 on Sunday, but it was Tennessee that owned all of the tiebreakers. The Colts were hoping they could claim victory in Pittsburgh and that the Titans would fall in their Week 16 street matchup on Sunday night against the NFC’s top seed, the Green Bay Packers, so Indy, not Tennessee, would fall into the final week from would enter the regular season in sole possession of the first place in the AFC South. The Colts couldn’t stop the end of the deal in the end, but now they know they’d be in the driver’s seat if they could just take care of business and hold on to their 17-point lead in the second half, their first division title since 2014 to claim; That’s because the Titans fell on the Packers, 40-14. The Colts can still win the AFC South with a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars coupled with a loss to the Houston Texans in Titans Week 17, but the odds are certainly not in their favor.
»GAME IMPACT: If the Colts had won against the Steelers on Sunday, they had a 99 percent chance of securing a spot in the postseason. But their loss means they are currently the eighth seed in the AFC and only the first seven seeds advance to the playoffs. Simply put, the Colts must win their matchup against the 1-15 Jaguars at home in week 17 and They need help in the form of losing one of the three teams facing them in the AFC race to get a ticket to the dance. In other words, the Baltimore Ravens must lose to the Cincinnati Bengals or face them on the street (4-10-1), the Cleveland Browns must lose or draw at home to the Steelers (12-3), or the Miami Dolphins must lose or tie on the street against the Buffalo Bills (11-3). The Colts can also earn a postseason berth with a tie and either a Baltimore, Cleveland or Miami loss.
– Quarterback Philip Rivers has tied Dan Marino, 420, for the fifth most touchdown passes in NFL history.
– Rivers hit 4,000 that season with his first 265 yards, joining Tom Brady and Drew Brees (12 seasons) for the second busiest season at 4,000 yards.
Click here for more stats and notes on Sunday’s loss to the Steelers courtesy of Colts Communications.