The Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts had the good courtesy to entertain people in what was supposed to be a below average edition of Sunday Night Football, but the entertainment value had a lot more to do with schadenfreude than quality football. All three quarterbacks that threw passes during the game - Ben Roethlisberger, Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter - had poor games.
Collins managed just 93 passing yards on 29 attempts (seriously), Roethlisberger turned the ball over three times and Painter's accuracy was below average by the standard of NFL quarterbacks. However, Painter did start to look decent on his final drive, completing a couple of nice passes to set up the Colts for a game-tying touchdown.
Pittsburgh Steelers blog Behind The Steel Curtain had a bit of an understandably negative reaction to Roethlisberger's play, tough they did just as much complimenting of pass rushing defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.
The three turnovers came in the form of two sack-fumbles by Ben Roethlisberger and an interception. All came in the second quarter and allowed Indianapolis to make things interesting when it appeared as if they might get run out of the building. The first of the three fumbles was forced by Robert Mathis on a sacks where he had been pushed outside by Marcus Gilbert but kept tracking Roethlisberger from the backside. Big Ben unsurprisingly was holding onto the ball for longer than he probably should have there. Gilbert perhaps could have stayed with the play a bit longer, but he did his job forcing him way outside. A relentless, fast, pass rusher like Mathis is going to track down QBs if the ball's not out by the 3.5-4.0 second mark. The second strip sack came compliments of Dwight Freeney on a play where Jonathan Scott just totally whiffed.
Perhaps the biggest criticism of Roethlisberger throughout his career has been that he holds onto the ball too long. This was absolutely the case against the Colts, and it's probably the biggest reason that the Steelers weren't able to put away the game much earlier than they did.
Indianapolis Colts blog Stampede Blue didn't have many kind words to say about Collins, but had some praise for Painter.
This game also saw the Colts lose another quarterback. A hit from James Farrior knocked Colts quarterback Kerry Collins out of the game in the third quarter, giving way to Curtis Painter. Much to the surprise of everyone, Painter looked good.
Well, somewhat good.
Sure, during his first series, Painter got sacked by James Harrison, fumbled, and Troy Polamalu recovered it for a TD to give Pittsburgh a 20-13 lead. But, Painter did come back on his next drive and took the Colts right down the field. The drive culminated in a six-yard TD by Joseph Addai, tying the game at 20-20.
Prior to Collins going down with an apparent concussion, he was pretty much ineffective. He couldn't convert on third down. He couldn't put the ball in the endzone both times the Colts offense got in the redzone.
At 0-3, the Colts are very much out of the playoff race in a very tough AFC and are very much in the race for Andrew Luck. Meanwhile, the Steelers are 2-1 with a bad loss and a win in which they didn't look very good. It's possible that they could hit their stride in the coming weeks, but they don't currently look like the team that made it to the Super Bowl last season.