With Peyton Manning out, beating the Colts is supposed to be easy. The Steelers went to Indianapolis and won on Sunday night, but it wasn’t easy.
Instead, the Steelers had to fight until the bitter end of a messy but thrilling game, finally winning 23-20 on a last-second field goal.
The Colts were down not just Manning but also, later in the game, Kerry Collins, who suffered an apparent concussion. Third-string quarterback Curtis Painter came in and looked terrible at first, but he eventually settled down and actually looked OK — just not good enough to win.
The crazy game featured crucial defensive touchdowns that went both ways. For the Colts, Jamaal Anderson raced 47 yards with a fumble return in the second quarter that completely shifted the game’s momentum: The Steelers had been leading throughout and appeared to be on the way to cruising toward an easy victory, but Anderson’s touchdown tied the game, and the Colts soon took a lead that they would hold for most of the second half.
For the Steelers, Troy Polamalu scored on a 16-yard return of a Painter fumble that put the Steelers ahead in the fourth quarter and appeared to seal the win.
But after that fumble, when it would have been easy to give up on the Colts, Painter marched his team down the field on an impressive drive that ended with a Joseph Addai touchdown run. On that play Polamalu got into the backfield instantly and tried to knock the ball out of Painter’s hand, but Painter managed to hand off to Addai, who ran right past Polamalu and got into the end zone. If Polamalu had just drilled Addai, he would have blown up the whole play. Instead, it was a Colts touchdown that tied the score, 20-20.
The Colts couldn’t hold on, however, as the Steelers marched back down the field for that game-winning field goal. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pretty, but it was a Steelers win.