PITTSBURGH (AP) – Ben Roethlisberger torched the Indianapolis Colts once again.
The Pittsburgh quarterback threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns in the Steelers’ 45-10 dismantling of the decimated Colts on Sunday night.
Antonio Brown caught eight passes for 118 yards and two scores and also returned a punt 71 yards for a touchdown for the Steelers (7-5).
Martavis Bryant hauled in four passes for 114 yards and a score, and DeAngelo Williams added 134 yards rushing as Pittsburgh shook off a slow start to dominate the Colts (6-6) over the final three quarters.
Roethlisberger has 886 yards passing and 10 touchdowns in his last two starts against Indianapolis.
Matt Hasselbeck threw for 169 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions before leaving in the fourth quarter because of neck and shoulder pain. The Colts remain tied with Houston for the lead in the AFC North.
The Steelers came in smarting following a sloppy loss in Seattle last weekend that dropped them out of the AFC’s top wild-card spot, while the Colts had been surging under the seemingly ageless Hasselbeck. The 40-year-old began the night unbeaten while subbing for Andrew Luck by avoiding mistakes and playing with the energy of someone at the onset of his career instead of fighting off the twilight.
Whatever magic Hasselbeck possessed disappeared quickly in a stadium where he has never won. He threw a pair of interceptions in opening 11 minutes, matching his season total. The first one came on the game’s third play, a lob at the goal line that linebacker Jarvis Jones snatched out of the air for his first career interception. Hasselbeck’s second came later in the quarter on a tipped ball that ended up in the hands of cornerback Brandon Boykin, seeing his first extended playing time since the Steelers acquired him from Philadelphia in August.
It led to a 51-yard field goal from Chris Boswell that gave the Steelers a 6-3 lead. Hasselbeck found Frank Gore for a 9-yard score that put Indianapolis in front, a touchdown that seemed to remind Pittsburgh that Roethlisberger put up 522 yards and six touchdowns in a victory over the Colts last fall.
The Steelers finished the first half with a flourish. Roethlisberger completed six straight passes on an 80-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard dart to Brown that pushed the Steelers ahead. Roethlisberger found Will Johnson for the team’s NFL-leading seventh 2-point conversion to make it 14-10. The quarterback was even better running the 2-minute drill on Pittsburgh’s next possession, going 60 yards in eight plays, the last a 5-yard toss to Markus Wheaton just inside the pylon that put Pittsburgh up 11 at the break.
The Colts went three-and-out to start the second half and the Steelers effectively entered the competitive portion of things when Roethlisberger found Bryant with a rainbow down the right sideline. Bryant chased it down and simply ran away from a pair of Indianapolis defensive backs on his way to a 68-yard play that put the Steelers up 18. Indianapolis’ last best shot to get back in it came later in the quarter, but Hasselbeck was chased to the sideline and threw incomplete on fourth down at the Pittsburgh 14.
Roethlisberger provided the exclamation point, chugging for a 13-yard gain on third down – even diving forward at the end rather than slide – to extend Pittsburgh’s ensuing drive. Brown leapt between two defenders to haul in a 48-yard gain then caught his second touchdown pass of the night 49 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Brown finished the rout with a 71-yard dash up the middle for the fourth punt return touchdown of his career. The All-Pro punctuated the score by straddling the goalpost and sliding to the ground. It drew a penalty flag for unsportsmanlike conduct and laughs from his teammates.
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