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Gardner Minshew, Colts bolster playoff chances, beat fading Steelers 30-13

Posted at 9:21 PM, Dec 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-16 21:22:10-05

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gardner Minshew threw three touchdown passes and the Indianapolis Colts rushed for 170 yards, improving their playoff prospects with a 30-13 win over the sagging Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday.

Minshew was 18 of 28 for 215 yards and matched his career high for TD passes while leading a Colts offense lacking its usual complement of playmakers. Leading receiver Michael Pittman Jr. left the game with a concussion, top rusher Zack Moss departed with a right arm injury, and former 2021 rushing champ Jonathan Taylor (right thumb) didn’t play.

The Colts (8-6) have won five of six and temporarily moved a half-game ahead of three teams for the AFC’s seventh and final playoff spot. The Steelers (7-7) dropped their third straight and fell into last place in the rugged AFC North, putting coach Mike Tomlin’s run of 16 straight seasons at .500 or better in jeopardy.

Pittsburgh took an early 13-0 lead behind backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky, but by late in the fourth quarter, the Colts had scored 30 consecutive points and third-stringer Mason Rudolph was slinging passes for the Steelers.

Trey Sermon ran 17 times for 88 yards to lead the Colts after logging only 11 runs this season. Pittman finished with four receptions for 78 yards, giving him 99 catches and the second 1,000-yard season of his career.

Trubisky went 16 of 23 for 169 yards with one TD pass and two interceptions in another ugly offensive effort for Pittsburgh, which only had 74 yards rushing and finished with 216 total yards.

The Steelers got off to a promising start when a replay review changed a fumble by Trubisky into a 1-yard TD run. Chris Boswell missed the extra-point attempt. Six plays later, Pittsburgh capitalized on a blocked punt when Trubisky threw a 4-yard TD pass to Diontae Johnson for a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter.

But Indy’s defense pitched a shutout the rest of the game, and the Colts took control when Minshew and Moss hooked up on a 16-yard TD pass and D.J. Montgomery caught a 14-yard TD pass with 22 seconds left in the first half to make it 14-13.

The Colts immediately converted a fumble by Najee Harris into Minshew’s 18-yard scoring pass to Mo Alie-Cox for an 18-yard score to take a 21-13 lead early in the second half. Indy sealed the win with three field goals by Matt Gay.


Lucas Oil Stadium fell silent when Steelers safety Damontae Kazee launched his shoulder into Pittman as the receiver tried to make a diving catch. The Colts later said Pittman had a concussion. Kazee was ejected for the hit, which also drew a penalty.

Colts players immediately rushed to see if Pittman was OK and some players from both teams took a knee as trainers worked on Pittman. Fans covered their eyes and had concerned looks before Pittman got up and walked off the field.


Steelers: S Minkah Fitzpatrick did not return after hurting his left knee in the second quarter. S Trenton Thompson returned after briefly sitting out with a stinger in the second half.

Colts: Taylor missed his third straight game since having surgery and Moss got hurt on his scoring catch. He did not return. Moss broke the same arm during the preseason. DT Eric Johnson II also left in the second half with what appeared to be a lower-body injury.


Steelers: Lost for the first time at Lucas Oil Stadium as their eight-game winning streak in the series came to an end. ... Johnson led the Steelers with four catches for 67 yards. George Pickens caught three balls for 47 yards.

Colts: Tyler Goodson had 11 carries for 69 yards. ... The Colts had three sacks, giving them 45 this season — two short of breaking the single-season franchise record.


Steelers: Host division rival Cincinnati next Saturday.

Colts: At Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 24.