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The Colts Influence




This Weeks Game

Colts VS Steelers

Pre Game Preview     Recap    Game Notes    Quotes

26 VS 7




















November 28, 2005
Monday Night Football
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis
9:00 PM

When the Colts were 7-0, some of you were thinking. "Man, these guys are awesome!"  While all of you non Colts Fans were saying, "You guys aint so tuff, you haven't played any real teams with talent."  True. They'd beaten the dregs of the league. They'd smacked down offenses led by the likes of Trent Dilfer and David Carr. They'd feasted on teams that now have a 23-47 record.

Then on October 17, a Monday Night Football Colts VS Rams. A thrashing 45-28 victory!

Now you non Colts Fans are saying it was a fluke.

So the Indianapolis Colts went to "Razor Stadium" in Foxborough, Mass. on another Monday night and dismantled the 2 time defending Super Bowl champions, Patriots.

Was that enough? 

Then came the wildest scoring game in NFL history with a 45-34 victory at Cincinnati, the Colts 10th straight win.

The evidence continued to mount Monday night in a frenzied RCA Dome as The Colts shoved aside another formidable challenger.

It was a game many thought would give the Colts trouble because of Pittsburgh's physicality, but Indianapolis came out punching and never let up on ABC's prime-time stage.

Each of Pittsburgh's previous three losses came on the last play of the game; two were in overtime. Not this time.

The Steelers, considered the standard for physical football, flinched, and fell hard 26-7.

Pittsburgh punted, punted and punted. Pittsburgh's attempt to control the tempo with its running game was thwarted by the Colts' front seven.

The Colts defense used the entire 60 minutes to abuse and shut down the Steelers.

If not for Polamalu's interception, Pittsburgh wouldn't have been in the game at all.

Despite the return of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who missed the past three games after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, the Steelers managed only 197 yards, including just 86 on 25 rushing attempts.

The Colts defense got to Roethlisberger for three sacks by Josh Thomas, Robert Mathis and Montae Reagor and received interceptions from safety Mike Doss and cornerback Jason David.

"We heard so much about it was going to be a physical game and how physical these guys were," Coach Tony Dungy said. "I think we wanted to prove we were going to play physical and tough and not back down."

The Colts' third convincing win on "Monday Night Football'' this season enabled them to become just the 11th team in the 86-year history of the NFL to open a season 11-0. They can join the 1998 Denver Broncos, '85 and '34 Chicago Bears and '72 Miami Dolphins as the only teams to start 12-0 by handling AFC South rival Tennessee on Sunday afternoon in the RCA Dome.

"Now we've kind of put the AFC North in position where we're ahead of them.
"Now we've got to work on locking up our division. We've still got Jacksonville right behind us.''

The Jaguars (8-3) actually are three paces behind the Colts in the AFC South, and face a must-win rematch Dec. 11 in Jacksonville.

On with The Show . . . 

Steelers wins toss, elects to Receive, and Colts elect to defend the East goal.


The tone was set from the outset, by the Colts defense. On Pittsburgh's first play from scrimmage, defensive end Raheem Brock sliced in and slammed Willie Parker for a minus 1 yard. Roethlisberger then threw an incomplete pass and completed his next for 6 yards which wasn't enough to move the chains. Steelers were forced to punt, ending up being a touchback and Colts start out on thier 20 yard line.

The Peyton Manning-led offense jumped to a 7-0 lead in only 84 seconds of the game on its first snap as Marvelous Marvin Harrison burned third-year Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor for an 80-yard touchdown reception!


AP Photo/Michael Conroy

The 91st career hookup between Manning and Harrison was the longest of Harrison's 107 TDs and the fourth 80-plus-yard completion by Manning in the regular season. His first was for 80 yards to Terrance Wilkins on November 21, 1999 at Philadelphia. His second was for 86 yards to gone, but not forgotten, Marcus Pollard on November 18, 2001 at New Orleans and his third was another 80 yarder to Dallas Clark on November 14, 2004 in Pittsburgh.

Manning sent Harrison on a simple "go'' route down the right sideline. Cornerback Ike Taylor hesitated slightly in response to Manning's play-fake to Edgerrin James, and paid the price.

"Once the corner hesitates at all,'' Manning said, "there's no catching Marvin Harrison.''

At this point the game is pretty much over!

Pittsburgh again went three-and-out on its next drive as Parker's second carry of the game, defensive end Dwight Freeney fought through a double team and buried him for a 3-yard loss. On thier second down Gary Brackett stops Parker dead in his tracks for no gain and on thier third down Reagor sacks Roethlisberger for a loss of 5 more yards.

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Oh, the crowd is high and Colts defense is fired up!

Steelers punt it away.

As The Colts got the ball back fast, they continued to move down field again with ease. Manning hit Reggie Wayne for a 13-yard gain, and then followed it up with a 19-yard completion and an eight-yard pass to Reggie to give them a first down at the Steelers nine-yard line.

A J Macht

Then came the unexpected moment, when normally mild-mannered Colts receiver Marvin Harrison took exception to Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor slapping at him after some brief contact on a rushing play. The next play, Harrison grabbed Taylor's face mask, prompting the Steeler to do likewise in a first-quarter standoff.

Harrison was flagged 15 yards for a personal foul, one of six called in the game on the teams, but the Colts had made a statement.

If Pittsburgh intended to make this game a grind-it-out, tough-on-tough affair, the Colts were ready. When Marvin Harrison picks a fight, you can pretty much assume the whole team is on edge.

"I don't know, it's probably from you guys talking about us being a finesse team," said Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, who sparred verbally with Steelers defensive backs Deshea Townsend and Tyrone Carter. "Everybody is out there competing. Everybody wants to go out there and make plays. Nobody wants to get cheap-shotted."

"I was kind of excited to see Marv get a little retaliation. That pumped me up," receiver Reggie Wayne said. "Marvin is usually pretty laid back. When he does something like that, it pumps you up."

Colts coach Tony Dungy understood his team wanted to match the Steelers' intensity, but he cautioned about taking it too far.

"We have to learn how to channel our emotions and our energy," he said. "We didn't play with a lot of composure out there.

Dungy didn't care for the move. He later criticized his players for letting their emotions turn into penalties. But men will be men, and teams should know they can't bully Harrison and friends.

"We heard so much about how it was going to be a physical game and how physical these guys were. We wanted to prove that we were going to be physical and tough and not back down."

Despite the exchange, Taylor can take solace in the fact he could trade swats with Harrison, but his efforts were much like his defenses.

 The personal foul call on Harrison pushed the Colts back to the 22-yard line and the Steelers were able to hold them and force a Vanderjagt 29-yard field goal for a 10-point cushion, just 8:53 into the contest.

Steelers ball and AGAIN they go three and out as thier first play was stopped again in its tracks for no gain and on second down, Indianapolis Colts free safety Bob Sanders introduced himself to Pittsburgh with a body-slam of receiver Cedric Wilson in front of the Steelers' bench.

Call it a 3-yard gain with pain on a memorable Monday. Sanders clamped his arms around Wilson, lifted the receiver off his feet and drove him into the FieldTurf.

Sam Riche / The Star

Bring it on: Safety Bob Sanders reacts after a big hit during the Colts' victory over the Steelers on Monday. The Indianapolis' defense dominated against a Pittsburgh team that has built a reputation over the years for physical toughness.

Sanders had a team-high nine tackles.

On Steelers 3rd down as Roethlisberger was sacked for the second time by Dwight Freeney, the officials claimed Freeney was offsides and a 5 yard penalty was enforced.

 Sam Riche / The Star

Didn't matter, Roethlisberger threw another incomplete pass and again the Steelers are forced to punt.

This is where the Steelers get thier ONE and ONLY score of the game as it came from a Manning interception by Steelers Troy Polamalu, setting them up on the Colts 7 yard line. Three plays and two false-start penalties later, Roethlisberger finally hit Hines Ward in the end zone with a 12-yard pass to cut the deficit to 10-7.

It wasn't even an error pass on Manning. That bastard, Polamalu is just damn good, I must admit.

As to hear Steelers coach, Bill Cowher talk of him:

"He knows where he needs to be within the structure of the defense," Cowher said. "Sometimes he takes different paths getting there that even we, at times, are wondering where he's going to be. So I know the defense won't know where he's at because sometimes even we don't know where he's going to be. But we also have a call, and he understands what the structure of the defense is."

In other words, Polamalu takes an undefined path to get to where he's supposed to be.


Colts punter, Hunter Smith makes his first appearance as Colts ended up punting on thier next drive.

The Steelers were unable to get it in the end zone as they sent Jeff Reed's in for a 41-yard field goal that went wide left.

Matt Kryger / The Star

On Colts next possesion, even though there was a sweet Manning to Harrison 32 yard completion, Colts invited Hunter Smith back out to the field.

On the Steelers next possesion, I'll give you one guess. Your right - 3 and out concluding with one of the best hits when Sanders drove in low to trip Steelers running back Willie Parker after a 4-yard gain on third-and-7 from the Pittsburgh 5. It was as if the flipping Parker had his legs cut off.

With The Colts in control of the ball now and what seemed to be a beautifull - confuse the defense - switch the offense line around on them, turned out to be an illegal formation when Harrison recieved the pass from Manning on 3rd and 4.

This sent Vanderjagt on the field, who did not miss his 48 yard field goal bringing the score to 13-7.

Steelers ball. Go ahead, take a guess. Colts defense is not allowing Pittsburgh to go anywhere as Freeney nails halfback, Duce Staley for a 1 yard loss on one play and Steelers - AGAIN - are forced to punt.

Did anybody notice that Marvin Harrison was the punt returner on that play?

Troy Walters was knocked out with a sore shoulder but returned. He missed one return, which Marvin Harrison ran for 10 yards. It was Harrison's first punt return since replacing an injured Brad Pyatt for a fair catch at Miami in 2003.

Anyway, The Colts also were forced to punt.

On Steelers possesion of the ball, Roethlisberger is sacked for the third time in the game by a flying Robert Mathis for a minus 10 yards!

AP Photo/Tom Strattman

On Steelers very next play Roethlisberger is sacked again by Freeney, however officials called him for a face mask and was penalized for 15 yards.

Matt Detrich / The Star
Photo is enlarged

You tell me.

That's ok! Two plays later Colts safety, Mike Doss intercepts a pass from Roethlisberger intended for Hines Ward.


Manning moved the Colts into good field position and Vanderjagt hit his third field goal of the game for 44 yards, giving them a 16-7 lead going into the half.


 Steelers coach Bill Cowher made a strange, perhaps desperate decision to open the second half with an onside kick. It backfired as  the ball went only seven yards and was recovered by Matt Giordano at the Steelers 37-yard line. Manning took advantage of the short field he had to work with. He completed a 15-yard pass to Bryan Fletcher, and then James had a nine-yard run to the 12-yard line. Manning capped the short drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Fletcher to give the Colts an insurmountable 23-7 lead.

Both teams ended up going no where on offense as we go into the fourth quarter.


Steelers came into the 4th quarter with possesion of the ball as Josh Thomas, with assistance from Dwight Freeney sacked Roethlisberger for the fifth time in the game, for a minus of 7 yards.

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

On 4th and 4, Steelers go for it as Roethlisberger tries himself to run it up the middle but is brought down by Colts, CoreySimon and Larry Tripplett 1 yard short of a first down.

With a little over 11 minutes left in the game The Colts used alot of Edgerrin James to run down the clock on thier next possesion.

AP Photo/Tom Strattman
Indianapolis Colts' Edgerrin James, right, runs past Pittsburgh Steelers' Ike Taylor during the fourth quarter in Indianapolis, Monday, Nov. 28 2005. Indianapolis defeated Pittsburgh 26-7. James finished with 124-yards rushing.

 Colts ended up punting to Pittsburgh. What did they do with it? As the rest of the night, not a damn thing.

On The Colts final drive, again they ran down the clock with alot of Edgerrin James, some of James Mungro and a little of Dominick Rhodes and capped it off with a Mike Vanderjagt 28 yard field goal to have the scoreboard read:

Pittsburgh Steelers: 7   Indianapolis Colts: 26

And now, on The Colts 3rd Monday night game, an ass whoopin home victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-7, and only the pathologically cynical could wonder now, even a little bit.

The Indianapolis Colts are unstoppable!

16-0? It could happen.

Can they? Will they? Does an undefeated regular season await the Indianapolis Colts?

The big question is whether anyone can beat this team. 

Tony Dungy remained adamant the pursuit of perfection never has been one of his team's priorities.

"Our goals have always been to win the AFC South, get the (first-round) bye, get home-field advantage, try to be as good as you can be in the playoffs,'' he said. "That's what we're focused on.''

It's conceivable Dungy will face a dicey decision of resting front-line players or playing them extensively in the final games to go undefeated even if the Colts have the No. 1 seed wrapped up.

"Hopefully we win the next two because that means we will wrap up the division," he said Tuesday. "If we win them, we know there will be a lot of talk about 'Can you go undefeated?' But that's never really been our goal."

He indicated in an interview with Sports Illustrated he would lean toward not exposing the team's marquee players to injury even if that meant jeopardizing an unbeaten regular season.

"I haven't really looked that far ahead,'' Dungy said. "I know if we win them, there'll be a lot of talk about, 'Hey, could you possibly go undefeated?' ''

Prior to Monday night's game, Dungy and Cowher discussed the Colts' record run. In 2004, the Steelers posted a 15-1 record, but lost the AFC Championship Game at home to New England.

"All the talk is, 'You didn't win the championship, you didn't win the Super Bowl,' '' Dungy said of the '04 Steelers. "And there haven't been a lot of 15-1 seasons.''

An undefeated season, he added, "would be an honor, it would be special. But it's not something you're going to remember if you don't do well in the playoffs.''

"Your whole plan is to win the Super Bowl,'' Dungy said. "While it would be nice to be 16-0, it doesn't change our plan. If we happen to be that fortunate, to have a chance to clinch home field before the end of the season, the plan would be the same whether we were 12-3 or 15-0. We'd be playing to win, but we may have different players.

It's really kind of a no-brainer. As soon as the games aren't meaningful in the standings, it's something we'll think about. They don't give out rings for 16-0. They give out rings for winning the Super Bowl. And everything we do will be with that goal in mind.''

The rest of the NFL is running out of ways to try to beat the Indianapolis Colts. 

So far, the failed attempts include: 

-Intimidation. The New England Patriots repeatedly stole the Colts' lunch money the last few years. So they tried to wring one more mental win out of history. Result: Bully deflated.

-Imitation. The Cincinnati Bengals put an Indy Jr. offense on the field, urging Carson Palmer to match wits and arm with the Colts' Peyton Manning. Result: Manning still owns the record copyright.

-Intensity. The Pittsburgh Steelers brought the Bill Cowher scowl, the Ben Roethlisberger resilience and the indomitable Bus (Jerome Bettis), trying to muscle their way past the Colts. Result: Indianapolis 26, Pittsburgh 7 in a Monday Night Football power display at the RCA Dome.

"Every single game," Manning said, "has its own identity."

And every single week, the chameleon Colts find a way to assume the look of a champion. 

The Colts improved to 11-0 heading into Sunday's home game against Tennessee and almost taunt opponents to take their best shot. Shootout? Defensive struggle? Field-goal kicking contest? What approach is left that the Colts can't deflect?

"What I like about this team is that we can play any style," Colts coach Tony Dungy said, "and we're confident in any style . . . This team seems to do whatever it takes."

Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel

Complete the season sweep of the Titans, and the Colts will be only the fifth team in league history to start 12-0.

More important, they will clinch their sixth playoff berth in the past seven seasons.

With each victory, the Colts can increase their postseason advantages: a third straight AFC South title, a first-round bye, the No. 1 seed in the AFC that brings home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Colts have made certain Cincinnati (8-3) and Pittsburgh (7-4) remained in their rearview mirror, handling them in consecutive weeks. They can do likewise to Jacksonville (8-3) on Dec. 11. Denver (9-2) is two paces behind the Colts in the chase for the No. 1 seed, but the Broncos can't make up ground as long as the Colts don't falter.

SUNDAY, Tennessee (3-8)

Quarterback Steve McNair and the youth-laden Titans still are good enough to handle rebuilding San Francisco. But it's hard to imagine them possessing the wherewithal to stand toe-to-toe with the Colts in what used to be a showdown to determine AFC South supremacy. The Colts have won the past five meetings with the Titans.

DEC. 11, at Jacksonville (8-3)

The Jaguars took a serious hit in Sunday's win at Arizona, losing quarterback Byron Leftwich with a broken ankle. He might miss the remainder of the regular season, leaving the offense in the hands of promising but unproven David Garrard. Jacksonville remains a strong contender for at least a wild-card playoff berth on the strength of its defense.

DEC. 18, San Diego (7-4)

It's hard to forecast the status of the Chargers for what promises to be an electric re-run of the teams' 2004 meeting, a 34-31 Colts' overtime win. They're tied with Kansas City for second in the congested AFC West, two games behind Denver (9-2). This much is known: The scoreboard will get a workout. San Diego features quarterback Drew Brees, running back LaDainian Tomlinson and tight end Antonio Gates; the Colts counter with, well, you know.

DEC. 24 at Seattle (9-2)

This one might mean a bunch, or not much. The Seahawks hold a one-game lead over Carolina (8-3) and Chicago (8-3) in the chase for the No. 1 seed in the NFC and can clinch the NFC West title next weekend. Likewise, the Colts could have their playoff plans solidified by the time they head to the Great Northwest for a Christmas Eve game.

JAN. 1, Arizona (3-8)

This could be tantamount to a bye week before the bye week for the Colts. The Cardinals will be playing out the string in a disappointing season and the Colts likely will be determining how much playing time is enough for their front-line players.

The Colts are closing fast on a playoff berth, and more. They can:

o Clinch a playoff berth with a win Sunday against Tennessee. There are other possibilities involving ties and losses by other teams that would accomplish the same feat, but win-and-in is the most basic.

o Clinch the AFC South with a win over Tennessee and a Jacksonville loss at Cleveland. If the Colts and Jaguars both win Sunday, the Colts would clinch the division by beating Jacksonville on the road the next weekend.

o Clinch a first-round bye with a win over Tennessee, a Jacksonville loss at Cleveland and a Cincinnati loss at Pittsburgh.

Clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs will take awhile. Assuming the Colts and Denver Broncos -- second in the conference with a 9-2 record -- keep winning, the earliest the Colts would clinch home field is against San Diego in their 14th game. (Even if the Broncos win out and the Colts lose their final two games, Indy would get the nod by virtue of having a better conference record.)

Mike Chappell
Indy Star

The Gold and Black were black and blue following their 26-7 dismantling at the hands of the now 11-0 Indianapolis Colts.

The physical sight of the Steelers coming off the hard RCA Dome turf was not a good one, particularly for a team that has its season on the line Sunday against the Bengals.

Defensive tackle Kimo Von Oelhoffen limped off the field with the help of a trainer in the final two minutes Monday night, stopped and doubled up with pain as he got acclimated to a leg injury. Right tackle Max Starks gingerly walked into the locker room, bothered by cramps. Left tackle Marvel Smith, already aching from an ankle injury, couldn't play the second half after injuring his other ankle. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, returning to the lineup after three weeks off, limped toward his locker on a heavily taped, sore knee.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger limped in the locker room after the game with ice on his right knee and ice on a new injury, to his left ankle, although he finished the game and it did not appear to be serious.


"It was a great win for us,'' Dungy said. "Our crowd was fantastic. The atmosphere was very electric, like it's going to be in the playoffs.''

I will have to agree with Dungy on the fact that the crowd was fantastic, I should know I was there. We (the fans) were on our feet the whole entire game. The fans made noise on every Pittsburgh play and were at their loudest on 3rd downs. On that note, Pittsburgh Steelers want to make excuses for their loss Monday night to THE Indianapolis Colts by claiming The RCA Dome had noise piped into the speakers to prevent their offense from hearing the play counts.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said the crowd noise during the unbeaten Colts' 26-7 victory was so loud that center Jeff Hartings couldn't hear the play calls. Steelers right guard Kendall Simmons jumped offsides three times because he couldn't hear the snap count.

"The crowd noise killed us, no question," running back Jerome Bettis said. "It killed us. You can never say what it means, how valuable it is. The sound is valuable. It's tough for you to do anything. Offensively, it was tough for us to get going."

Colts president Bill Polian raved about the fans in his weekly question-and-answer column posted Thursday on the team's Web site.

"They were into it. They affected the outcome of the game," Polian said. "They bothered the Steelers. Their snap count was fouled up. They caused numerous penalties. That's the home field advantage and that's what you have in the National Football League."

NFL rules permit supplemental noise until the offense breaks the huddle. At least one NFL team, the Redskins in 2000, has been fined for supplementing the crowd noise. The Redskins were fined $20,000 for piping noise from their cheerleaders through the public address system during a game against Tampa Bay.

A hot topic on ESPN Radio's "The Dan Patrick Show'' Wednesday afternoon focused on the Colts allegedly enhancing the clamor in the Dome by piping in noise. The observation was made by ESPN reporter Ed Werder, who watched the Colts' 26-7 victory from the press box and shared his opinion on a Dallas radio show the following day.

The Indianapolis Colts deny they supplemented the already loud crowd noise in the RCA Dome during Monday night's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers by pumping heavy bass noise through the stadium's speakers.

In a written statement, the Colts categorically denied they "somehow 'piped in' or otherwise artificially enhanced the crowd noise'' during the Steelers game or at any other time.

"We are doing nothing wrong,'' senior executive vice president Pete Ward told The Indianapolis Star. "We've got the loudest stadium in the league, with the fans naturally providing that sound.''

Coach Tony Dungy called the accusations "an insult to our crowd. Our fans have been great. We don't need to pipe in noise.''

Furthermore, the home team is subject to a penalty if the officiating crew determines the crowd noise makes it impossible for the quarterback to adequately run his offense. If the crowd ignores warnings from the officials, the home team could lose a timeout or be assessed a 5-yard penalty.

At no time in Monday's game did Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger seek noise-control assistance from the officials.

"There's not much to say. They pretty much dominated us out there," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said. "Our offense against their defense, they were pretty smothering out there. We couldn't get anything going."

"The Colts didn't allow us to run the football, which is something we pride ourselves on," Bettis said. "That was frustrating. They do a great job."


Edgerrin James finished with 124 yards on 29 carries, his eighth 100-yard game of the season and the first allowed by the Steelers' No. 6-ranked run defense in 23 games.
The team's all-time rushing leader bumped his club record to 48 career 100-yard rushing games, which also moved him past the Steelers' Franco Harris for eighth on the NFL's all-time list.

James has 1,240 yards this season, second in the league to Seattle's Shaun Alexander at 1,339.

The Colts are 42-6 when James rushes for at least 100 yards.

The Steelers' streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher came to an end

The Colts recorded their 400th win in franchise history

Manning improved to 5-0 in his last five Monday night games

 Peyton Manning's quarterback rating through Monday night's win over the Steelers. He has 232 completions in 341 attempts for 2,779 yards, 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

The Colts' offensive line allowed two sacks, increasing their season total to nine

Steelers head coach Bill Cowher fell to 6-1 in his career against the Colts, including playoffs. Dungy improved to 2-2 against both Cowher and Pittsburgh in his career

 Manning finished 15-for-25 for 245 yards

Peyton Manning's 80-yard touchdown pass to Harrison on the Colts' first offensive play was the longest of the Pro Bowl receiver's 10-year career. Harrison's previous best was a 79-yard score at New Orleans in 2003.

Harrison finished with 128 yards receiving for his 51st career 100-yard game, second in NFL history to Jerry Rice's 76. The Colts star had been tied with Don Maynard. Harrison has four 100-yard receiving games this season.

The bomb to Harrison was the Colts' longest play of the season.

Mike Doss' interception of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the second quarter was the Colts strong safety's second of the season and fifth in a three-year career.

Kicker Mike Vanderjagt's four field goals in four attempts boosted his NFL-record career percentage to 87.4 (209-of-239).

Sacks status

The Colts' Robert Mathis shares the league lead in sacks at 11 with Oakland's Derrick Burgess. Defensive tackle Montae Reagor and reserve defensive end Josh Thomas also had sacks against the Steelers, boosting the Colts' season total to 35. That ties Chicago and San Diego for second in the NFL, one behind Seattle.

Dungy thought defensive end Dwight Freeney should have had a sack when he bulled over tackle Marvel Smith and dropped Ben Roethlisberger for a 12-yard loss in the first quarter. Freeney was flagged for offside, but Dungy said after looking at the film that his player was penalized for moving more quickly than everybody else. The comparison was made to Colts left tackle Tarik Glenn, who Dungy says has been penalized unfairly for false starts because the blocker moves so quickly at the snap.

Game 12 against STEELERS

Game 5 against 49er's

Game 11 against the Bengal's

Game 4 against Titans

Game 17 against Cardinals

Game 10 against the TEXANS again

Game 3 against Browns

Game 16 against Seahawks

Game 9 against PATRIOTS

Game 2 against Jaguars

Game 15 against Chargers

Game 8 - BYE WEEK

Game 1 against Ravens

Game 14 against Jaguars again

Game 7 against the TEXANS


Game 13 against TITANS again

Game 6 against Rams







This will be a Steelers reunion: Get used to some interesting Dungy-related anecdotes from his days as a player and coach with the Steelers. He signed with Pittsburgh as a rookie free agent in 1977 and played two seasons as a safety. He joined Chuck Noll's coaching staff as a defensive assistant in 1981 and was promoted to defensive backs coach in 1982 before being named defensive coordinator in 1984, a position he held through the '88 season.

This is such a tremendous matchup as it is unique, different styles in how both teams go about trying to be successful.

Pittsburgh is a bludgeon team which embodies toughness. Pittsburgh will be in the attack mode the second it enters the RCA Dome. Its trademark is a blitzing, disruptive 3-4 defense. While quarterback Peyton Manning generally responds to that type of pressure with the necessary pre-snap adjustments, and a hot hand of his own, The Colts ploy and jab and dance and outpoint you

The Indianapolis defense is a much-improved eighth overall, allowing an average of 293.4 yards per game.

The Colts' offense is occupying its normal lofty position among the league leaders, ranking second in yards per game (379.9), first in points (305), first in touchdowns (39, two of which have been scored on interception returns by linebacker Cato June) and first in net points (plus 153).

The Steelers' standard operating procedure against such high-octane units is to hit them in the mouth as hard as they can as often as they can.

"If we play consistent defense like we know how and don't give up the good play, we have a pretty good shot of going out there and stopping them," Pittsburgh linebacker, Joey Porter said.

If not . . .

"Every time you make a mistake," Pittsburgh freesafety, Chris Hope said, "they capitalize on it."

Pittsburgh, starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger who has missed the last three consecutive games with a hyperextended and bruised left knee is expected to return Monday night in Indianapolis.

The downside for the Steelers in one of their biggest games of the season: Peyton Manning will be at quarterback for the other team.

It's no wonder coach Bill Cowher said Tuesday the Steelers (7-3) can´t begin to play at the level they did in a 16-13 overtime loss in Baltimore and hope to be competitive against a Colts offense that scored touchdowns on its first five possessions in beating Cincinnati 45-37. The Colts (10-0) had more offense in half a quarter than either the Steelers or Ravens did in 4 1/2 quarters.

That´s why, perhaps for the first time in his 14 seasons as the Steelers´ coach, Cowher conceded his team will be challenged merely to keep this game close, in a stadium that can be the NFL´s loudest when the Colts offense is rolling.

Which, this season, has been about 90 percent of the time.

"Every defense you have, there is a void in there somewhere. He finds it," Cowher said of Peyton Manning. "The thing we´ve got to do is make the time for him to process all that a little shorter and to try to confuse him a little bit. You´re not going to confuse him for a long period of time, but maybe just long enough to disrupt their passing game."

As there is talk about The Indianapolis Colts going undefeated while no team has gone unbeaten since the Miami Dolphins went 14-0 in the 1972 regular season, the Steelers did come close to upsetting the 1972 Miami Dolphins. They led much of the AFC title game before losing 21-17, in a game that turned on a long run by Dolphins punter Larry Seiple off a fake punt.

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