Saturday 24 March 2018 / 05:56 AM


Among the festivities of Thanksgiving, and two amazing early-day games, we were treated to a blowout in primetime. Indianapolis’ 28-7 loss to Pittsburgh harked back to the Colts’ pre-Andrew Luck days, when the roster was thin and awful – which is how they ended up with the star QB to begin with.

The Steelers burned the Colts on both sides of the ball, shredding the defense with a stiff Ben Roethlisberger, and managed to touch in just ONCE inside the pocket. That’s a feat in of itself. They let LeVeon Bell rush for 120 yards behind an injured offensive line and gave up five catches to Antonio Brown, two for touchdowns.

It was an awful showing for a defense that has been that way for years. They left their poor top corner, Vontae Davis, alone with Antonio Davis time and time again. When asked after the game if they were supposed to be providing him support, head coach Chuck Pagano lamented, “We were. We just didn’t execute.”

That’s a painful statement in more ways than one. The Colts’ sorry defensive pressure didn’t even touch a quarterback that’s dealing with a knee, shoulder, and concussion problem. They were terrible out wide and in the flat. And the linebackers let plays to the second level happen with regularity, even without the threat of a mobile QB.

The Steelers went 7 of 11 on third down conversions, living in Colts territory. In fact, it’s a shocking stat that the Steelers only scored 28 points.

And let’s not start on the offense. Scott Tolzien, the backup QB, withstood a Steelers pass rush that sent five or six on each and every play. They were able to do so because of the absolute absence of any remnant of a running game. The receivers dropped FIVE passes, including three sure touchdowns, and now lead the NFL in drops.

Two drives perfectly encapsulate the Colts roster right now:

Down by two scores early in the fourth quarter, the Colts had first down and goal at the Steelers’ one-yard line. On the first play, Frank Gore got stuffed for a loss. On the second, Gore picked up one yard. And on third down, Tolzien had an open lane to run in the touchdown…and tripped on the half-yard line. And on fourth down? They loaded out in an empty backfield, for Tolzien to fire a pass incomplete.

Later in the third quarter, they’d get another shot at the six-yard line. This time, three straight runs, no touchdown. And on fourth and goal, another pass play and another incompletion.

I’d describe it better, but Colts star receiver T.Y. Hilton already did it perfectly: “If you can’t make one yard, you don’t belong in the NFL.”

He’s right.

The Colts are a terrible team outside of Andrew Luck, with nothing to show on their defense, on the offensive line, or out wide. The line let Tolzien get destroyed all night, despite the QB standing in and taking the brunt of the punishment all day. Without the constant pressure, Tolzien could have conceivably led a drive or two, and all things considered, did all he could do to produce a win.

But when your line can’t get you a touchdown on eight plays within the five-yard line, it’s a problem. The receivers dropped passes, the backs couldn’t get separation, the line couldn’t protect, and the defense couldn’t stop anyone.

We all got a glimmer into the world of Andrew Luck on Thursday, and it isn’t pretty.

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About the author

Austin Albertson

Austin is CBS' senior NFL and NBA analyst, bringing you commentary on everything between the lines and inside the hashes, from the film room to the scoreboard.

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