Steelers back on track af­ter win over Colts

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Will Graves AP Sports Writer AP Sports Writer Mike Marot in Indianapolis con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Af­ter a month tee­ter­ing on the brink of get­ting left be­hind, the Steelers ap­pear to be primed for an­other late play­off push af­ter their clin­i­cal 28-7 vic­tory over the Colts on Thanks­giv­ing night.

Pitts­burgh Steelers coach Mike Tom­lin likens the sea­son to a mov­ing train that stops for no one. Not even his tal­ented if enig­matic team.

Af­ter a month tee­ter­ing on the brink of get­ting left be­hind, the Steelers ap­pear to be primed for an­other late play­off push. Their clin­i­cal 28-7 vic­tory over Indianapolis on Thanks­giv­ing night vaulted Pitts­burgh (6-5) back over .500 and at least briefly atop the AFC North.

“It lets us set the stage of what we know we can do,” said run­ning back Le’Veon Bell.

Par­tic­u­larly when Bell, quar­ter­back Ben Roeth­lis­berger and wide re­ceiver An­to­nio Brown are work­ing in rhythm and the de­fense is freed to be ag­gres­sive. Bell ran for 120 yards and a touch­down, while Roeth­lis­berger and Brown hooked up for three scores against the un­der­manned Colts. The de­fense picked up three sacks to give the Steelers 11 in a span of five days af­ter get­ting just 13 over the first nine weeks. It added a pair of goal-line stands to avoid the kind of road melt­down that’s plagued them far too of­ten in re­cent years.

“Guys are def­i­nitely try­ing to make plays,” line­backer Ryan Shazier said. “Try­ing to be around the ball a lot more. Try­ing to be more phys­i­cal and force the peo­ple to do what we want them to do.”

Those were things Pitts­burgh failed to do dur­ing a four-game los­ing streak that sapped the Steelers of the swag­ger that car­ried them to a 4-1 start. They weren’t quite as flashy while stop­ping Cleve­land and me­thod­i­cally dis­man­tling An­drew Luck-less Indianapolis, but that might not nec­es­sar­ily be a bad thing.

Three early scores Thurs­day night gave them plenty of breath­ing room, and while they didn’t quite over­whelm backup Scott Tolzien, the Colts never re­ally threat­ened the rest of the way.

Yet the typ­i­cally brash Brown isn’t quite ready to say his team’s mid­sea­son swoon is firmly in the rearview mir­ror. Asked af­ter the first three-touch­down game of his ca­reer if the Steelers have fi­nally found their iden­tity, he shrugged his shoul­ders and said sim­ply it’s “to be de­ter­mined.”

Maybe, but the blue­print might have been laid over eight quar­ters span­ning barely over 100 hours. With de­fen­sive end Cam Hey­ward out for the sea­son with a torn pec­toral mus­cle, Pitts­burgh has ditched the no-hud­dle of­fense and re­lied heav­ily on Bell to carry the load and run the clock to keep the de­fense off the field.

AJ MAST — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pitts­burgh Steelers wide re­ceiver Sam­mie Coates runs with the ball dur­ing the sec­ond half of the team’s 28-7 win over the Colts in Indianapolis on Thurs­day night.

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