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09-23-2011, 01:10 AM
After settling for field goals, Indy on TD alert

By Associated Press
Friday, September 23, 2011

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 58236.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_758236.html)

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis is moving to code red.

After starting 0-2 for the first time in 13 years, and seeing the lack of productivity, the Colts are trying to get things fixed. First on the list: scoring touchdowns instead of kicking field goals.

"It's just making plays and execution in the red zone," receiver Austin Collie said Thursday. "It's that simple. It's always that simple."

Things have become far more complicated for the Colts since Peyton Manning had his third neck surgery Sept. 8.

With the four-time league MVP missing his first two games as an NFL player, Indy's high-scoring offense has responded with only two touchdowns and 26 total points. Last weekend, the Colts settled for four field goals before finally putting the ball in the end zone — with 24 seconds left in a 27-19 loss to Cleveland.

This isn't the way the Colts are supposed to play football. So, coach Jim Caldwell has made red-zone efficiency the focal point of practice this week.

"I don't think there's a secret to it," said running back Joseph Addai, who is averaging 4.7 yards per carry but has no scores. "Those red-zone plays, we worked on that heavy during practice yesterday."

Addai and his teammates will almost certainly get even more work on it before Sunday night's game against the AFC champion Steelers (1-1).

But the complexities are growing.

Already down Manning, the Colts are now trying to get his replacement, 38-year-old Kerry Collins, mended in time for Sunday. Collins, who didn't talk Thursday, was limited in Wednesday's practice with a sore throwing shoulder. Collins was a full participant in Thursday's workout.

It's not clear how Collins was injured, and coach Jim Caldwell did not provide details about the extent of the problem.

The only other active quarterbacks on the roster are Manning, who is expected to be out at least two months, and Curtis Painter, who has a career quarterback rating of 9.8. Undrafted rookie Mike Hartline is on the practice squad, and punter Pat McAfee could fill in as the emergency quarterback.

Caldwell doesn't think any of that will be necessary.

"We expect him (Collins) to do more today," Caldwell said before Thursday's workout. "He's coming along."

Still, Painter said he worked more with the starting unit than he normally does during game week.

And injuries are not just a quarterback issue.

Tight end Dallas Clark missed Wednesday's practice and did limited work Thursday because of a foot injury. Clark's backup, Jacob Tamme, has missed two days of practice with a concussion, and right guard Ryan Diem could miss Sunday's game with a sprained left ankle.

Couple that with an offensive line that has two first-year starters at tackle and a new left guard, and there have been all kinds of concerns.

Collins has already been sacked five times and lost three fumbles, compared with the 16 sacks Manning endured all of last season.

But the biggest worry is the inability to finish drives with touchdowns.

Indy moved inside the Cleveland 20 three times week yet managed only the one late TD. That's not good enough to win the NFL, and everybody in the locker room knows it.

"Look, I like being out on the field," kicker Adam Vinatieri said. "But I know we've to got get touchdowns as well as field goals."

There are no easy solutions.

Indy realizes it could be tough sledding until Collins gets in sync with his receivers and line, but there's no telling how long the process will take.

"For the foreseeable future, they're not going to be the high-efficiency offense that we've been used to," Colts vice chairman Bill Polian told radio listeners Monday night. "Kerry can't do that, nobody can. You could probably bring back Johnny U. (Unitas) and you wouldn't have that."

And don't expect major changes.

The Colts want first-round pick Anthony Castonzo to become comfortable as the new left tackle, and believe right tackle Jeff Linkenbach and left guard Joe Reitz will develop.

So the only real fix is to be patient and persistent as the Colts work it all out.

"From our standpoint, it's a long season," center Jeff Saturday said. "We got better from Week 1 to Week 2. We've got to get better in Week 3 to finally get a victory. (On Sunday) we had a ton of long drives and we just didn't cap them off. If you finish those drives, things are a lot different."

Read more: After settling for field goals, Indy on TD alert - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... z1YkW8k6ea (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_758236.html#ixzz1YkW8k6ea)

09-23-2011, 02:46 AM
Silent snap count is expected for Steelers

Thursday, September 22, 2011

One of the keys for the Steelers on Sunday night will be neutralizing the pass rush of speedy Colts defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said the Steelers expect to use a silent snap count because of the crowd noise at Lucas Oil Stadium. That will put added pressure on left tackle Jonathan Scott and right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who is set to make his second career start.

"When you have to use silent count, they can get off the ball and they're basically like linebackers that are big and strong," Roethlisberger said of Freeney and Mathis. "I've got faith in our tackles and our tight ends, whoever is on them. Those ends are going to win some (battles), but we're going to win some, too."

›› Nose tackle Casey Hampton said he was not making excuses when he answered questions about the Ravens cut-blocking him in the season opener. Hampton sounded off after being asked if the Seattle Seahawks chop-blocked less.

"That chop-blocking stuff, man, we got beat," Hampton said of the loss to the Ravens. "We lost, and I'm not going to sit here and be (complaining)."

›› Starting defensive end Brett Keisel (knee) didn't practice and is unlikely to play Sunday. Center Maurkice Pouncey (hamstring) and running back Jonathan Dwyer (shoulder) were limited in practice. Inside linebacker James Farrior, receiver Hines Ward and defensive end Aaron Smith were given a veterans' day off.

›› Left guard Chris Kemoeatu (knee), receiver Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring) and outside linebacker Chris Carter (hamstring) practiced after missing last Sunday's game with injuries. Kemoeatu said he plans to play against the Colts. Cotchery also is hoping to play after missing the first two games because of an injury that he sustained prior to the season opener.

"I have never had anything linger this long," Cotchery said.

›› Freeney (abdomen) and Mathis (chest) were among the Indianapolis starters who didn't practice. Also out were tight end Dallas Clark (foot), strong safety Melvin Bullitt (shoulder), right guard Ryan Diem (ankle) and defensive tackle Fili Moala (ankle).

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... z1YkRAHamq (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_758094.html#ixzz1YkRAHamq)

09-24-2011, 12:49 AM
Facing Collins will be different challenge
September 23, 2011
By Will Graves , The Associated Press
http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/conte ... l?nav=5187 (http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/553829/Facing-Collins-will-be-different-challenge.html?nav=5187)

PITTSBURGH - Ryan Clark respects Peyton Manning, and he feels for the Indianapolis Colts as they continue to search for traction and an identity while their franchise quarterback recovers from neck surgery.

Still, the Pittsburgh Steelers safety isn't exactly complaining about taking on the winless Colts (0-2) without Manning on Sunday, and Clark's source of glee has nothing to do with facing Kerry Collins instead of the three-time MVP.

Collins has a better record (3-2) against the Steelers than Manning (2-2), a better completion percentage (64 to 60), and a better touchdown/interception ratio.

The one thing Collins doesn't have on Manning? Acting ability.

Taking on the Colts without Manning means not having to endure 20-25 seconds of the quarterback standing at the line of scrimmage frantically barking out orders as if he was playing some football version of charades.

"Thank God because that is so boring," Clark said with mock exasperation. "Such a theatrical performance."

Clark was kidding. Sort of. Clark is pretty sure there was some football involved in Manning's gestures. He's also pretty sure some of it was simple gamesmanship.

"It got talked about so much and people loved it so much I think Peyton even kind of fed into it, 'I'm going to keep doing this because people think I'm doing a lot at the line,'" Clark said.

The Colts have been more deliberate through the first two weeks as veteran Kerry Collins - plucked out of retirement by coach Jim Caldwell a month ago - learns the system Manning has orchestrated so artfully for 13 seasons.

That's fine by the Steelers, particularly guys like nose tackle Casey Hampton. He's used to playing maybe 15-20 snaps against the Colts because he's not quite fit enough to dash on and off the field while Manning operates out of the no-huddle even if Hampton, like Clark, is suspect of Manning's motives.

"Do you know he's really getting guys lined up and doing that? You never really know what he's doing," Hampton said.

Collins isn't familiar enough with the Colts' offense to play those kind of games. It doesn't mean he hasn't been effective against the Steelers. He beat them the first three times he faced them, including a 17-point whipping in 2008 while playing for Tennessee. And even at 38-years-old, the Steelers believe Collins can get operate quickly if not quite as efficiently as Manning.

"They're not going to run the same offense that Peyton runs, because there's only one Peyton, but they're still running their offense," defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. "And they're still running no-huddle, and we'll have to be ready for a lot of snaps and getting our calls in at the ball."

Pittsburgh will likely be without defensive end Brett Keisel, who missed practice again on Thursday with a knee injury. Third-year man Ziggy Hood will get the start if Keisel can't go, and though he's wary of Collins, he's not expecting a track meet.

"It could be slowed down to where we get in our formations and we get it right," Hood said. "This is the third game and [Collins] has only been there so long. If we was playing them late in the season, maybe that no huddle will come into play. Maybe this week we don't know. We've got to be prepared."

For all the progress the Colts believe they've made while giving Collins a crash course in an attack that's been tailored to Manning's unique talents, they know they're not quite operating at the same speed as usual.

General manager Bill Polian, who helped coax Collins out of retirement to keep the Colts afloat while Manning heals, heard Houston linebacker Mario Williams boasting about how much easier it was to go through the pre-snap without Manning back there pointing fingers.

"[Williams] said the defensive line felt much more comfortable doing their jobs because all of Peyton's motions and gestures didn't let them know when they had to get into their stances, so it caused them trouble," Polian said. "Kerry can't do that. Nobody can. Peyton is like a race-car driver who has been driving that car for 14 years. He knows every nuance, every little bump, you have to recognize that and say this is going to be a different looking team."

Still, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin pointed out Collins looked Manning-esque the last time he played the Steelers, nearly leading Tennessee to a miracle comeback in week two of the 2010 season after coming on in relief of Vince Young.

The Steelers were firmly in command 19-3 late in the fourth quarter when Collins led the Titans to a quick touchdown and a 2-point conversion and had the team driving again when the lock ran out.

"That experience is not lost as we prepare for this one," Tomlin said.

Pittsburgh's defense was back to its usual swarming self against the overmatched Seahawks last Sunday, pitching a 24-0 shutout. Yet through two weeks the Steelers have yet to generate a turnover, the first time that's happened in consecutive games since 2009.

Collins hasn't provided the Steelers with many opportunities, throwing just two picks in 163 career attempts against Pittsburgh. Clark points out the defense's mindset is focused more on getting stops than getting the ball.

The Steelers will have more time to think about it on Sunday now that Manning's acting is relegated to TV commercials for the time being.

"It'll be weird playing them without Peyton, period," Hampton said.

09-24-2011, 01:49 PM
My favorite thing about the Colts?

They have an offensive assistant on their coaching staff named Jim Bob Cooter.

Seriously, you couldn't possibly come up with a better hick redneck name if you tried. Comedian Dan Whitney would have been better off changing his name to Jim Bob Cooter than Larry the Cable Guy. It just fits.

If you are unfortunately saddled with the last name of Cooter, and your parents name you James Robert, here's some advice: stick with the James. James Cooter ain't great by any means, but it's certainly not in the "Jim Bob Cooter" elite league.

Add to that the fact that he faced aggravated burglary charges a couple of years ago after climbing through a woman's window, stripping down to his underwear, and getting into bed with her (before she called police and he was arrested of course).

But, he was a former backup QB at the University of Tennessee, so it makes sense that Colts QB/coach/GM Peyton Manning would hire him.

Jim Bob Cooter...you simply cannot make this stuff up.

09-24-2011, 03:25 PM
Chris Kemoeatu expects to start Week 3

Pittsburgh Steelers OG Chris Kemoeatu (knee) expects to start at left guard in Week 3 even though his knee is still a little weak.

0 Comments | Share: | Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Ralph N. Paulk

Read more: http://www.kffl.com/hotw/nfl#ixzz1Ytpllocu

I don't know if I agree with this fans. Look, Kemo, when healthy is definitely a great drive blocker for our running game...no doubt. But he has always been rather weak when it comes to pass protection and blocking. So, if his knee is still weak, I would think that would not be a benefit to our running attack. And make Ben more likely to be pressured when passing ?

09-24-2011, 06:33 PM
Steelers' Tomlin understands Colts' predicament
Steelers coach remains wary of quarterback Kerry Collins, despite his issues during first two games with Colts
Sep 23, 2011 |
http://www.indystar.com/article/2011092 ... ext|SPORTS (http://www.indystar.com/article/20110923/SPORTS03/109230371/Steelers-Tomlin-understands-Colts-predicament?odyssey=tab|mostpopular|text|SPORTS)

PITTSBURGH -- There will be no Ben Roethlisberger-Peyton Manning IV Sunday, a juicy matchup that no doubt prompted the NFL to schedule the game in a prime-time slot. Those watching the Pittsburgh Steelers play at the Indianapolis Colts must settle for Kerry Collins-Roethlisberger, no Roman numerals needed.

Collins was enticed out of a short retirement by the Colts because of Manning's neck problems that have kept him sidelined and apparently will for quite some time. Whatever Collins provided the Tennessee Titans, New York Giants, Carolina Panthers and Penn State University prior to that, he has not been able to replicate in his first two games with the Colts.

But he did not sign with them until Aug. 24, less than a month ago, and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin not only remembers some of the things Collins accomplished against the Steelers as recently as one year ago but thinks it will not be long before he might start doing them again.

Collins turned a yawner under ineffective starter Vince Young into a thriller that ended in the Steelers' favor, 19-11, in the second game last season at Heinz Field. There also was a game near the end of 2008 when he picked them apart in Tennessee in a 31-14 Titans victory.

"Obviously, when you have a change at quarterback, I am sure you lose a little bit" of continuity, Tomlin said. "But I am sure that is one of the reasons they were interested in Kerry Collins because he is a veteran football player, I am sure a quick study and I am sure that he will adjust and learn the nuances of some of the things that they have evolved to very quickly.

"That is why I am more concerned about him and them and what they are capable of than I am in terms of what I have seen on tape. Because I imagine under those circumstances he's capable of improving quickly, as are they."

Collins, who grew up in Lebanon, Pa., will turn 39 on Dec. 30. He retired in July but was coaxed out of it by the Colts. In two games with Indianapolis, both lopsided losses, he has two touchdown passes, one interception, five sacks and a 71.4 passer rating. He has completed 50.7 percent of his passes.

Manning has had nothing less than a 91.9 passer rating in any of the past eight seasons and nothing under a 65 percent completion rate.

"I am not going to try to minimize the importance of Peyton Manning for the Indianapolis Colts," Tomlin said. "I'd imagine that it is a major adjustment that they are going through. But I also think they've got great continuity and great quality players at other positions, and he is a part of the bigger picture in terms of what they have done there for a number of years."

Tomlin also is concerned about how his team adjusts to the noise in an indoor facility.

Steelers offensive linemen blamed botched assignments in the opener on crowd noise in Baltimore and the fact they could not hear the calls at the line of scrimmage.

The Colts play at Lucas Oil Stadium, which is not as loud as the old RCA Dome, but loud enough.

"If we perform better initially," Tomlin said, "that will help us with crowd control."

09-24-2011, 08:07 PM
It's gonna be a GREAT game because I will be there :tt2 . Going with 3 girl friends, sitting in the 2nd row near the endzone. Only had to pay face value for the ticket too. Woohooo!!!!!!!

09-25-2011, 12:01 AM
Colts' biggest issue Sunday will be protecting the quarterback
Indianapolis quarterback Kerry Collins, who is replacing injured Peyton Manning, fumbled four times and was sacked five times in the Colts' first two games, both losses.

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-nfl ... ?track=rss (http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-nfl-sunday-spotlight-20110925,0,6752642.story?track=rss)

By Sam Farmer

September 24, 2011, 2:35 p.m.
The question Sunday night for the Indianapolis Colts:

Who will carry Collins?

That's quarterback Kerry Collins, the $4-million replacement for injured Peyton Manning. Collins has had a rough go in Indianapolis' first two games, both losses. He fumbled four times and was sacked five times. Against Cleveland last Sunday, he suffered an undisclosed right shoulder injury that limited his participation in practice this week.

"The Colts are much more of a running team now," NBC's Cris Collinsworth said. "Kerry Collins can still throw the ball great. He's got an arm that can throw it with almost any quarterback in the league. They just have to get him protected; that's going to be an issue."

The Indianapolis defense could also keep the Colts in the game, especially if it can get Pittsburgh in some third-and-long situations and pressure Ben Roethlisberger from the edges with defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

"Once Freeney and Mathis get going in that stadium with the crowd noise, it's hard to get off on the snap count," Collinsworth said.

Then again, the game could get ugly quickly. The Colts have long worked without a net — and for years it paid off. Now, they've slipped off the wire.

With their failure to develop a backup quarterback — a byproduct of Manning's rock-solid reliability — the Colts are off to their worst start since 1998, and the prospects for a turnaround are bleak.

Backup Curtis Painter is on alert to be ready to step in if necessary, though that would do little to soothe Indianapolis faithful who remember how overmatched he was two years ago when he replaced Manning at home against the New York Jets and blew the lead.

— Sam Farmer

09-25-2011, 12:16 AM
Steelers-Colts injury report

http://www.indystar.com/article/2011092 ... /109230372 (http://www.indystar.com/article/20110923/SPORTS03/109230372)

Sep 23, 2011 |


» Did not participate: DE Brett Keisel (knee).

» Full participation: RB Jonathan Dwyer (shoulder), C Maurkice Pouncey (hamstring).


» Out: QB Peyton Manning (neck), LB Ernie Sims (knee).

» Did not practice: LB Gary Brackett (shoulder), S Melvin Bullitt (shoulder), OL Ryan Diem (ankle), DE Dwight Freeney (abdominal), DT Fili Moala (ankle), TE Jacob Tamme (concussion).

» Limited participation: TE Dallas Clark (foot).

» Full participation: QB Kerry Collins (throwing shoulder), TE Brody Eldridge (knee), DL Eric Foster (hamstring), DE Robert Mathis (chest), WR Blair White (back).

09-25-2011, 12:35 AM
How They Match Up

http://www.indystar.com/article/2011092 ... /109230369 (http://www.indystar.com/article/20110923/SPORTS03/109230369)

Sep 23, 2011 |

Written by

Phil Richards

Colts LT Anthony Castonzo and RT Jeff Linkenbach vs. Steelers LBs James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley

You never know where the pass rushers are coming from in coordinator Dick LeBeau's "Blitzburgh" 3-4 defense, but you can count on Harrison (92) and Woodley (56) being in the backfield. Together they accounted for 711/2 sacks the past three seasons and they will be a handful for the Colts. Linkenbach is struggling and he will get Woodley. Castonzo is a very impressive rookie, but Harrison will test him. Colts QB Kerry Collins has been sacked five times and lost fumbles on three of them, partly because of his tendency to hold onto the ball too long.

Steelers LT Jonathan Scott and Rt Marcus Gilbert vs. Colts DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis

Pittsburgh let Max Starks and Flozell Adams go in July. Willie Colon is on injured reserve. That leaves the tackle spots to Gilbert, a rookie second-round draft choice, and Scott, a journeyman who has started 25 games over five years. They will take on the Colts Pro Bowl ends while protecting QB Ben Roethlisberger, who holds the ball as long as anyone. Roethlisberger has been sacked six times and fumbled twice. Freeney and Mathis each has one sack this season.

09-25-2011, 01:16 AM
Steelers Vs. Colts: 2011 Sunday Night Football TV Time & Predictions

http://www.associatedcontent.com/articl ... tml?cat=14 (http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8470095/steelers_vs_colts_2011_sunday_night.html?cat=14)
Simon Nguyen, Yahoo! Contributor Network
Sep 24, 2011

The 2011 NFL Sunday Night Football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts is set for September 25 (8:20 PM EST) at Lucas Oil Stadium. NBC will provide TV coverage for this contest. This article offers predictions for the 2011 NFL primetime game between the Steelers (1-1) and Colts (0-2).

In any other year, a game between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis would have generated a lot of excitement. Unfortunately, the absence of star quarterback Peyton Manning swings the winner's pendulum squarely in the Steelers' direction. Barring a miracle, Pittsburgh is expected to dominate the contest against winless Indianapolis. Since 2001, the two teams have met five times with Peyton Manning's Colts enjoying a 3-2 advantage.

Indianapolis is outmatched by Pittsburgh at both ends of the field. The Colts' offense, which ranks near the bottom in most offensive categories, will face a confident Steelers's defense that dominated Seattle last weekend. Defensively, Indianapolis has also been lackluster giving up an average of more than 30 points a game so far this season. The team is set to face future Hall-of-Famer Ben Roethlisberger, who has rebounded nicely from his horrible performance in the opener.

The only way the Colts could win this contest is for the Steelers to have another off-night like the one against Baltimore, where they uncharacteristically gave up 35 points. Unfortunately, the Colts are no where near the same talent level as the Ravens. Even a mediocre performance may still be enough for Pittsburgh to win this game. The scoreline is probably the only thing that is unpredictable.

My prediction (season record: 2-0) - The Steelers will win this game by the score of 21-7; the Colts' Kerry Collins will throw at least one interception. This game will be aired on NBC at 8:20 PM EST or 5:20 PM PST.

09-25-2011, 02:49 AM
My favorite thing about the Colts?

They have an offensive assistant on their coaching staff named Jim Bob Cooter.

Seriously, you couldn't possibly come up with a better hick redneck name if you tried. Comedian Dan Whitney would have been better off changing his name to Jim Bob Cooter than Larry the Cable Guy. It just fits.

If you are unfortunately saddled with the last name of Cooter, and your parents name you James Robert, here's some advice: stick with the James. James Cooter ain't great by any means, but it's certainly not in the "Jim Bob Cooter" elite league.

Add to that the fact that he faced aggravated burglary charges a couple of years ago after climbing through a woman's window, stripping down to his underwear, and getting into bed with her (before she called police and he was arrested of course).

But, he was a former backup QB at the University of Tennessee, so it makes sense that Colts QB/coach/GM Peyton Manning would hire him.

Jim Bob Cooter...you simply cannot make this stuff up.

Ruth, that was an epic post. I will share this stuff with my best friends.

09-25-2011, 03:29 AM
Winless Colts eager for Steelers
September 25, 2011
By Michael Marot - The Associated Press
http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/conte ... ml?nav=753 (http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/553891/Winless-Colts-eager-for-Steelers.html?nav=753)
INDIANAPOLIS - The Indianapolis Colts thrive under football's brigthest lights.

They've been the most successful Sunday night team since 2000.

So with the losses piling up and the experts already writing off the season, the Colts return to their favorite prime-time stage with a chance to change the pecerception that they can't win without Peyton Manning.

Nope, Indy can't wait to face Pittsburgh tonight.

"You get the lights, the bright lights, the moon out, it just gets my blood going faster," Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney said. "A game like this comes with added excitement."

They'll need it.

The Colts are 0-2 for the first time in 13 seasons. The stability that defined the Manning era has temporarily vanished, and Indy's remarkable run of nine straight double-digit win seasons and a record-tying nine straight playoff appearances could soon be history, too.

For now, though, the Colts still own prime time.

Three-time Super Bowl champ New England has only eight Sunday night wins since 2000 - half as many as Indy's 16. America's Team, Dallas, and defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay, have 10 Sunday night wins during that span. Even Pittsburgh, this week's opponent, can only claim nine Sunday night wins in the last 11 years.

But all 16 of Indy's wins were engineered by Manning, and, of course, the four-time league MVP won't be around to help this week.

Everybody, including the Steelers (1-1), can see it's not the same.

"I wish nothing but the best for him and his health and recovery," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "But, also, you have to respect the fact that he is one of the best in the game, and anytime a guy like that is not playing, it, obviously, bodes well for your team. A little more confidence for your guys, because Peyton is one of the best."

Nationally, analysts are debating how low the Colts' victory total will go - and how lopsided Pittsburgh's projected win will be.

Has it really gotten this bad in Indy? Yes.

The Colts have produced two touchdowns in two weeks. The defense is ranked 15th in the AFC in third-down percentage. The Colts gave up a punt return for a touchdown at Houston, and a 43-yard punt return and a 52-yard kickoff return in last week's loss to Cleveland.

Now comes Pittsburgh, a team with a penchant for capitalizing on opponents' miscues.

Strangely, these two AFC powers haven't met since 2008. The Steelers last trip to Indy was a divisional playoff game in January 2006, the one that ended when Mike Vanderjagt shanked a potentially tying field goal to the right in the closing seconds.

But it's not the memories that concern the Colts. It's the present matchups.

Indy has first-year starters at both offensive tackle spots, a new starter at left guard and may have to replace the injured Ryan Diem (left ankle) at right guard. Plus, Kerry Collins, the 38-year-old quarterback, is expected to start his third straight game but has been hobbled in practice this week with a sore throwing shoulder. If his playing time is limited, Curtis Painter would be the next option.

That's a potentially huge problem against Blitzburg, which could play right into the Steelers' hands.

"If they're not the toughest defense to prepare for, then they're definitely one of the toughest," Collins said. "They can bring guys from anywhere. We've just got to be ready for whatever they bring."

Pittsburgh's path to success has never been a secret.

It pressures opposing offenses into mistakes, plays ball control with a strong running game and throws deep when defenses gang up against the run. The philosophy worked well enough to get Pittsburgh Super Bowl titles following the 2005 and 2008 seasons and back to the big game last year before losing to Green Bay.

Now they'll see if it's good enough to beat this century's Sunday night champs on their home turf.

"We are going to roll our sleeves up and get back to work. We have to go on the road and win in a hostile environment," coach Mike Tomlin said. "We have an opportunity to go seek an AFC road victory. We haven't done that yet. We need to sharpen our sword for it."

09-25-2011, 03:34 AM
Week 3: Key matchups

http://www.timesonline.com/sports/local ... abe92.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/local_sports/week-key-matchups/article_d02ed825-74a2-52a4-87ab-2891f8eabe92.html)

AP/Darron Cummings

Posted: Saturday, September 24, 2011 8:32 pm | Updated: 8:50 pm, Sat Sep 24, 2011.

By Mike Bires mbires@timesonline.com | 0 comments


Starting tonight, the Steelers play two straight games against teams that feature all-star wide receivers. Next week in Houston, it will be Andre Johnson. This evening in Indianapolis, it's Reggie Wayne, who ranked second in the NFL last year with 111 catches and 1,355 receiving yards. The man responsible for defending those two elite wideouts will be Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor.

Now in his ninth season with the Steelers -- seven of them as a starter --- Taylor's never been to the Pro Bowl. But he's done an admirable job over the years guarding Pro Bowl-caliber receivers.

Even though Taylor is listed as the Steelers' right side corner, he'll typically shadow an opponent's No. 1 receiver wherever he lines up. That will be the case again tonight, although Wayne almost always lines up on the left side of the Colts' offensive formation.

In the Colts' first two games, Kerry Collins has targeted Wayne a team-high 19 times. Wayne leads the Colts with 11 catches for 172 yards and a touchdown. In the Steelers' first two games, opposing QBs have thrown in Taylor's director just seven times. All he's allowed so far has been a 9-yard catch by Seattle's Mike Williams.


It didn't take long for the Colts to experience a special teams breakdown. On their opening kickoff of the 2011 season, they allowed Houston's Danieal Manning to return it 46 yards. In the second quarter, Jacoby Jones returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown in the Texans' 34-7 win. Last week when the Colts lost to the Browns, Joshua Cribbs set up two TDs with a 52-yard kickoff return and a 43-yard punt return.

No wonder Antonio Brown, a wide receiver who returns kickoffs and punts, likes his chances today. He's well aware that the Colts rank 31st in covering kickoffs (an average of 42 yards per return). He's also well aware that the Colts also rank 31st in covering punts (28.6 yards per return).

Brown has already had returns of 41 yards on a kickoff and punt this season. The first time he touched the ball as a rookie last year was on the opening kickoff in Nashville. He returned it 89 yards for a TD that ignited the Steelers to a 19-11 win over the Titans.

When he played college football at Central Michigan, Brown was twice named Mid-American Conference Special Teams Player of the Year. He'd love to do something special tonight against the Colts.

09-25-2011, 03:36 AM
Game 3 Matchup: Steelers vs. Colts
Gerry Dulac breaksdown the Sunday night showcase
Sunday, September 25, 2011
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When the Colts have the ball: No team in the NFL relies more on one player than the Colts do with Peyton Manning. Kerry Collins, talked out of retirement to replace Manning (neck), had success against the Steelers when he was with Tennessee. He is 3-1 in four career starts against them. But Collins is still adapting to a new system that is predicated on precision timing. He has produced only two touchdowns in two games and completed just 35 of 69 passes (50.7 percent) for 388 yards ----15 percent lower than Manning's career 64.9 percent. He also has fumbled three times. Making matters worse, the offensive line has new starters at four positions and could be without veteran RG Ryan Diem (ankle). Schematically, though, the Colts have the type of offense that can give the Steelers problems because they can spread the field with three wide receivers -- Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie -- and flex tight end Dallas Clark.

When the Steelers have the ball: The biggest concern is protecting the edge against DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, who have combined for 170 sacks in their career. The Colts have never been a team that could stop the run, mainly because their defense is built to rush the passer -- a philosophy adopted because opponents usually are trying to keep up or catch their Manning-led offense. The Colts have allowed 136.3 ypg on the ground, including 94 by Cleveland's Peyton Hillis last week. RB Rashard Mendenhall has started fast each of the past two games, but the running game has sputtered in the second half. Backup Isaac Redman is averaging 4.7 yards and continues to make big plays in limited time. The Colts will have to use FS Antoine Bethea to help on WR Mike Wallace, who had eight catches and over 100 yards receiving in each of his first two games. QB Ben Roethlisberger is fifth in the AFC in passing yards (586) and fourth in yards per attempt (8.14).

The Colts special teams ... It's not just the Manning-less offense that's been bad. The Colts have been horrid in kick coverage, allowing a 79-yard punt return TD to Jacoby Jones and a 46-yard kick return to Danieal Manning against the Houston Texans and a 43-yard punt return and 52-yard kick return to Cleveland's Josh Cribbs.

This is the first meeting in Indianapolis since the Steelers beat the Colts, 21-18, in the AFC divisional playoff round after the 2005 season -- the season they went on to win Super Bowl XL vs. Seattle in Detroit. ... The Colts have won two of the past three meetings, including postseason, but the Steelers are 10-2 in the past 12 meetings. The Steelers have never lost to the Colts in the postseason (5-0). ... The Steelers have won seven of their past nine games on the road, although they are 0-1 this season after losing their season opener at Baltimore.

To win, the Colts must ...

1 Be hard on Rashard. If they can't stop Mendenhall, that will slow Freeney and Mathis and create more time for Roethlisberger to pick on their corners.

2 Have Addai be adept. Because of the way their offense is built around Manning, RB Joseph Addai is not accustomed to being a feature part of the offense.

3 Gird on third. The defense is having a difficult time getting off the field on third down, allowing a conversion rate of 48.1 percent (13 of 27).

To win, the Steelers must ...

1 Disrupt the rhythm. So much of the Colts' passing game is predicated on timing routes with receivers, something Collins is still trying to develop.

2 Table Garcon. He is the Colts prime deep threat who usually lines on the right side of their offense -- against either Bryant McFadden or William Gay.

3 Like Mike. Teams have been picking on Colts CB Jacob Lacey, just as the Steelers picked on Seattle's Brandon Browner with Wallace.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11268/11 ... z1Ywo9roXo (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11268/1177111-66-0.stm#ixzz1Ywo9roXo)

09-25-2011, 03:39 AM
Stopping Freeney is Steelers' top priority
http://www.heraldstandard.com/sports/lo ... 759cc.html (http://www.heraldstandard.com/sports/local/stopping-freeney-is-steelers-top-priority/article_2fc980aa-51bd-5c43-b7a7-de9efa7759cc.html)

Posted: Sunday, September 25, 2011 2:00 am | Updated: 12:21 am, Sun Sep 25, 2011.

By Jim Wexell For HeraldStandard.com | 0 comments

Stopping Peyton Manning has been the priority for the Pittsburgh Steelers whenever they’ve played the Indianapolis Colts these last 10 years.

Tonight, with Manning out and Kerry Collins at quarterback for the 0-2 Colts, the Steelers’ priority becomes Dwight Freeney.

Freeney’s been one of the premier pass-rushers in the NFL, and together with Robert Mathis is part of an elite pass-rushing tandem. Together they’ve combined for 170 sacks and forced 78 fumbles.

That’s bad news for Steelers tackles Jonathan Scott and Marcus Gilbert - or maybe good news for running back Rashard Mendenhall.

Want to keep your franchise quarterback upright against a terrifying pass rush? Run into the league’s 29th-ranked run defense.

Yep, the Colts can’t stop the run.


Their statistics annually take the fall for a defense so bent on getting to quarterbacks that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said “they trample the runner on the way to the pass.”

Catchy philosophy, but lousy run defense.

Except when they play the Steelers.

“Yeah, they present a stunt problem, and always have,” said Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

The Steelers and Colts have played four times since former coach Tony Dungy installed his cover-2 defense and attacking four-man front in 2002.

That same year, the Colts allowed 4.3 yards per carry and the Steelers, behind Amos Zereoue’s 87 yards, averaged 5.5 in a 28-10 win.

But the Colts got better in 2005 and their games against the Steelers became bigger. With the Colts allowing a 28th-ranked 4.4 per rush that season, the Steelers could average only 2.7 in both the regular-season loss and the shocking upset win in the playoffs.

In 2008, the Colts allowed 4.2 per carry and the Steelers could muster only 2.1 against them in a 24-20 loss at Heinz Field.

“They did a great job when Bob Sanders was there,” said Steelers veteran lineman Trai Essex. “We just had a hard time accounting for him in our scheme, because they do a good job of rotating the backers and bringing down the safety.”

Sanders, now with the San Diego Chargers, is an injury-prone but talented strong safety. The two-time All-Pro missed 46 percent of the Colts’ games from 2004-2010 (counting postseason), but he was there for the last three games against the Steelers, and according to NFL.com made 7, 9, and 10 tackles to help stuff the Steelers’ run game.

“That’s always been our biggest problem, but I think we’ve got a great scheme this time around,” said Essex.

It’ll help that Sanders has been replaced by Melvin Bullitt, and even Bullitt is listed as questionable after missing practice this week with an injured shoulder. Behind Bullitt on the depth chart is Joe Lefeged, an undrafted rookie out of Rutgers.

“Well we feel real good about it,” Arians said of the Steelers’ game plan. “And I think we’re confident up front. The run part of it doesn’t have me as concerned as the pass blocking because they’re tremendous pass-rushers. When they’re at their place, they’re even better.”

Ergo, the importance of running the ball against the Colts.

“No, you gotta stay balanced,” Arians said. “They’re going to stack the box with two good safeties and you’ve got to be able to throw the football.”

Will Arians max protect?

“You can help both (tackles),” he said. “But you won’t have as many guys getting out.

“It’s a fine line between getting guys out, throwing the ball quick, and protecting if you want to throw it further down the field. Hopefully we can do both those things. We don’t want to give up what our advantage is in speed by trying to block too much.”

Or run too little.

09-25-2011, 12:48 PM
My favorite thing about the Colts?

They have an offensive assistant on their coaching staff named Jim Bob Cooter.

Seriously, you couldn't possibly come up with a better hick redneck name if you tried. Comedian Dan Whitney would have been better off changing his name to Jim Bob Cooter than Larry the Cable Guy. It just fits.

If you are unfortunately saddled with the last name of Cooter, and your parents name you James Robert, here's some advice: stick with the James. James Cooter ain't great by any means, but it's certainly not in the "Jim Bob Cooter" elite league.

Add to that the fact that he faced aggravated burglary charges a couple of years ago after climbing through a woman's window, stripping down to his underwear, and getting into bed with her (before she called police and he was arrested of course).

But, he was a former backup QB at the University of Tennessee, so it makes sense that Colts QB/coach/GM Peyton Manning would hire him.

Jim Bob Cooter...you simply cannot make this stuff up.

Ruth, that was an epic post. I will share this stuff with my best friends.

Don't thank me; Thank Ma and Pa Cooter.