PITTSBURGH — The Indianapolis Colts let a 17-point second half lead slip away in a brutal 28-24 loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
The first half belonged to the Colts, who found the endzone three times despite playing without starting offensive tackles Anthony Castonzo and Braden Smith. Pittsburgh’s only score of the half came in the second quarter when a Philip Rivers fumble set the Steelers’ offense up at the Colts’ 3 yard line. James Conner punched it in shortly after.
But the second half was a completely different story.
Rodrigo Blankenship’s 28-yard field goal with over 9 minutes left in the third quarter would be Indianapolis’ only points after the break.
Meanwhile, the Steelers’ offense found a rhythm on their way to ripping off a touchdown on three straight drives.
The Colts had a chance to retake the lead with a little over 2 minutes left in the game but turned the ball over on downs in Pittsburgh territory.
Philip Rivers was sacked a season-high five times with two backup tackles protecting him. He completed 22 of 35 passes for 270 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Rivers’ interception came with 6 minutes left in the 4th quarter and was his first INT since week 12 vs the Titans.
After forcing a trio of three-and-outs in a dominant first half performance, Indianapolis’ defense was gashed after halftime. The unit failed to force a turnover, and their only sack of the day came in the first quarter when safety Khari Willis blitzed Ben Roethlisberger.
Penalties were also an issue for the Colts, who had nine flags thrown on them for a total of 83 yards.
Indianapolis is no longer in control of their playoff fate. Frank Reich’s squad is now on the outside looking in as the AFC’s 8th seed.