Bill West, Star correspondent
December 7, 2015
PITTSBURGH — Colts defensive backs Mike Adams and Vontae Davis each experienced long, somewhat lonely walks to the sideline, the rest of their teammates well ahead of them Sunday night at Heinz Field.
Adams lingered behind after Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh’s 6-4 deep threat, beat him and cornerback Greg Toler down the right sideline for a 68-yard touchdown two minutes into the third quarter.
Davis, with Adams not far ahead of him, meandered to the opposite end of the field after Antonio Brown hauled in a 48-yard reception to situate the Steelers at the Colts’ 8-yard line to close the third.
The Colts' defense entered the game having allowed a league-high 47 passes of 20-plus yards and watched that total increase to 54 by the end of the third quarter, at which point the Steelers no longer needed to stake shots downfield in their 45-10 victory.
The mantra among the defensive backs in the locker room afterward: Maintain a short memory.
“That ain’t the first time I got beat,” Davis said. “You’re going to get beat in this league sometimes. You’ve just got to take it with a grain of salt and move on. … After the game, then I can go watch film, make my corrections and try to get better from it.”
Bryant and Brown, the Steelers’ usual suspects for long-distance highlights, were not the sole sources of explosive plays. Five of the six Steelers with a reception had a catch that exceeded 20 yards.
Ben Roethlisberger finished 24 of 39 for 364 passing yards; last season he completed 40 of 49 pass attempts for 522 yards and six touchdowns against the Colts.
“You play great quarterbacks and receivers like that, there’s no excuses, but it’s a challenge,” Davis said. “I feel like we were in some good positions. Early on, we made some plays. Then they started making plays.”
Bryant’s touchdown, which put Pittsburgh ahead, 28-10, served as the likely low point for Toler, who stayed with the Steelers’ speedster for several steps but fell behind when he turned and tried to box out the receiver. He faded. Bryant accelerated. Adams fruitlessly pursued.
Adams’ busy night with downfield stops began when he corralled receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey on a 21-yard pickup to Pittsburgh’s 46. It was just the sixth play of the game for the Steelers.
Two snaps later, tight end Jesse James caught a 20-yard pass up the seam.
More chunks came in a short sequence midway through the second quarter, as Bryant pulled in a jump ball over Toler along the right sideline to gain 26 yards, and Brown tapped his toes two plays later for another 26-yarder.
“You look at the plays — Toler, he’s right there. Vontae, he’s right there,” Adams said. “We’re just not getting plays. And great throw, great catch (by the Steelers). You can’t argue with those plays.
“(Brown) gets paid just like I do. Actually, he gets paid more than I do. He’s supposed to make those plays. But at the same time, I expect more of myself. I know Vontae and GT expect a lot from themselves.”
Indianapolis had the seventh highest yards-per-completion-allowed average in the league prior to Sunday’s game at 12.2.
Averaging 13.2 yards per completion, second-best in the league, Roethlisberger looked to stay on a roll.
“We just made some plays when we had to,” Roethlisberger said. “I still feel like we left some out there.”
The Steelers did more than enough to leave Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano puzzled by how to slow Roethlisberger and company.
“We tried to get there with a four-man rush and play some coverage,” Pagano said. “Play some two-deep, some quarters. Try to help those guys who’ve been down this road before. Asked a lot of those guys to play man-to-man situations and wanted to try to mix it up, and nothing really seemed to work.”