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Game 3 Matchup: Steelers vs. Colts
The Colts' struggles with Kerry Collins have been proof of Peyton Manning's importance to the 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).
KEEP AN EYE ON ...
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.
KEYS TO VICTORY
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...#ixzz1YwYe3Z4H
Ummm... don't you actually have to try running the ball if you don't want your running game to "sputter"?