Going into their third preseason game, the Pittsburgh Steelers have to be pleased with their progress. Thus far, defensive lapses and turnovers in the early portion of both games have been their biggest issues. Both are of the self inflicted variety and are highly fixable. These issues are part of this week’s edition of Pittsburgh Steelers keys to victory over the Indianapolis Colts. The Steelers come in to this game looking to remain undefeated, while the Colts are seeking their first win. Although records mean nothing in the preseason, these games mean everything to those seeking to earn or keep roster spots.
Preseason Week Three Pittsburgh Steelers Keys To Victory
When the Pittsburgh Steelers take the field against the Colts, several veterans will be making their preseason debuts. Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are among the those who hope to bring energy to a sputtering offensive attack. On the defensive side, the Steelers are hoping that Ryan Shazier and Bud Dupree will see some action as well. Despite the return of two of their biggest weapons, the Steelers keys to victory remain the same.
Steelers Keys To Victory Number One: Third Down Defense
Last week the Steelers gave up three long drives in their first three series. Those drives resulted in 13 points. In each of those drives, the defense put the Atlanta Falcons in third and long situations. Coverage breakdowns and missed tackles extended each of those three drives. The chief culprit for the coverage failures was Ross Cockrell, who gave up 77 yards through the air. He would have surrendered a touchdown if Marvin Hall hadn’t dropped the ball in the endzone. On a third and 11, five Steelers, including Artie Burns and William Gay, missed tackles that extended another Falcons drive. To beat the Colts, the defense has to get off the field on third down. That means tighten up coverage, keep the play in front of them, and tackling the catch. A tired defense is a vulnerable defense to the weakest of offenses.
Steelers Keys To Victory Number Two: Ball Protection
Luckily, a Josh Dobbs interception and a Martavis Bryant fumble didn’t result in any points for the Falcons. Bryant’s fumble can possibly be attributed to rust, but Dobbs’ interception was purely a bad decision. One of the quickest ways to let a game get away is to lose the turnover battle. The Steelers, namely Dobbs, needs to a better job of protecting the ball. If they don’t, the Colts have enough athletes to make them pay for their mistakes.
Steelers Keys To Victory Number Three: Control The Clock
One of the Steelers keys to victory in any situation is to control the clock, and it’s no different this Saturday. In both preseason games, the Steelers got the ball with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The Steelers went three and out on each occasion. The Steelers have to be able to control the clock in any situation, preseason or not. As much as it keeps the opposing offense off the field, it helps to preserve the defense. A fresh defense is a dangerous defense when it comes to the Steelers. They managed beat Atlanta while losing the time of possession battle by almost seven minutes, but every game is different. One of the goals for every game, including Saturday, should be to control the clock.
“If we go back to 2000 and look at how well teams played when they had 35-plus minutes TOP in non-OT regular season games, NFL teams compiled an impressive 83.7 winning percentage when they had the ball for that length of time. Since 2000, there have been 86 games where one team had 40 or more minutes TOP in a non-OT game. Those teams were 80-6 (a .930 winning percentage).”
Steelers Keys To Victory Number Four: Sack The Quarterback
Just because you have a horseshoe on your helmet doesn’t mean you have luck. Lately, when the Colts have had Andrew Luck available against the Steelers, it hasn’t made a difference. They seem to punish Colts quarterbacks at an obscene rate no matter who is under center. In light of that fact, Luck is probably happy to be sitting this one out. Happy hunting to the Steelers defense. If the Colts best quarterback can’t continuously get off the ground and beat you, his backups won’t either.
Embed from Getty Images