Skip to main content

Five Winners, Three Losers From Steelers Victory Over Colts

The Pittsburgh Steelers weren't perfect, but made enough big plays to survive.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be riding high back home after downing the Indianapolis Colts 24-17 in a full-team effort. They were not perfect, but survived some adversity to take home a crucial win. 

As they fight to stay relevant in an ever-narrowing playoff race, the Steelers are making key improvements at the right time. The run game leads the way in this week's winners and losers because it lost the most but played the biggest part in a win - something that would have been considered science fiction prior to the bye week. 


Benny Snell

When Benny Snell was demoted from his backup role in favor of Jaylen Warren, it was safe to assume that he wouldn't make anything more than an emergency appearance at tailback for the Steelers. Well, that emergency arrived when Najee Harris went down with an abdominal injury at halftime. 

Snell took that opportunity and thrived with it, rushing for 92 yards and a game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter against one of the league's better run defenses while also contributing to every special teams snap. After facing so many criticisms for his shortcomings over three and a half seasons, Snell got a well-deserved moment in the sun.  

Matt Canada

Canada was able to guide the Steelers to their two highest-scoring outputs in consecutive weeks. He has taken massive steps forward with this unit and the results are showing up on the field, so the praise needs to be as loud as the criticism was. 

The Steelers outpaced their season points average without a defensive touchdown, turnover or their top two running backs on a night when the starting quarterback threw for under 200 yards. That's hard to do and Canada deserves credit for finding balance in that difficult situation. 

Kenny Pickett and George Pickens

These two are linked because it was their connections that made some of the biggest impacts on this game. 

Their 35-yard connection in the second quarter kickstarted a 10-play touchdown drive, the Steelers' first of the game. Then a 13-yard catch was compounded by a 15-yard penalty got the offense out of the mud in the fourth quarter after the Colts had stormed back. 

Pickens' final catch was on the two-point conversion following the go-ahead touchdown. It was a beautiful improvisation by Pickett and Pickens, who made the haul while sliding in the back of the endzone around two defenders.  

Pickens finished the night with three catches for 57 yards, his second straight game leading the team in receiving totals. His connection with Pickett has only grown stronger and it has come to the benefit of the Steelers offense as a whole. 

Alex Highsmith

In the absence of a truly dominant game from T.J. Watt, Highsmith was the defensive line's one-man wrecking crew against Matt Ryan and company. He led the unit in tackles with six and recorded the defensive play of the second half, sacking Ryan on first and 10 with 1:35 left in the game to start a mad, oddly timeout-less scramble for the Colts offense. 

Highsmith deserves high praise week after week. He's not just an accessory to Watt and Cam Heyward along the Steelers front, but a star of his own in the making.  


Dan Moore

For as well as the offensive line played in Indianapolis, Moore had a rough evening. He almost singlehandedly turned seven points into three on the Steelers' first drive with a holding call. Then he allowed a sack on the same possession to drive his team back even further. 

While it was just one drive, it was a key one. Getting off to such a fast start is key for this team. Perhaps its unfair to judge Moore so much off mistakes he made mostly on one drive, but that's life for a team with such a small margin for error. 

Danny Smith

Special teams can make or break a game for any team in the NFL and for the Steelers, it threatened to break them against the Colts. Head coach Mike Tomlin said it himself - good Colts field position created by Dallis Flowers' 89-yard kickoff return to open the second half sparked their offense and put the Steelers on their heels. 

It isn't the first special teams miscue the Steelers have committed this year and while they've been good at creating good starting positions off their own returns, letting them up has become a far too common occurrence. 

Diontae Johnson

With every passing week, Johnson's lucrative extension looks like more and more of a mistake. It's not that Johnson is a bad player - he leads this offense, which has been dreadful at times in catches and is second in yards - but once again, some simple, but costly errors in the second half made him look like he was playing below his paygrade. 

In the fourth quarter, with his team facing a second and 14, Johnson ran a nice route and caught a pass with room to run, but likely fall short of the first down. Instead of taking what he could and leaving the whole playbook open on third and short, he ran backward to lose yardage. The Steelers converted on a dicey third and six but two plays later, Johnson dropped a pass that hit every bit of his palms in the endzone.

It's not enough for him to catch some passes and gain some yards - Johnson's got to step up in big moments to make his price tag worth it.  

Find great deals on Steelers tickets from SI Tickets HERE

Make sure you bookmark All Steelers for the latest news, exclusive interviews, film breakdowns and so much more!

Kenny Pickett Called Game-Winning Play

Najee Harris Leaves Colts Game With Injury

George Pickens Adds Another Incredible Catch to Resume

Super Bowl Champ Calls Out Kenny Pickett for Brutal Sack