NFL Team Report - Indianapolis Colts - INSIDE SLANT


Steelers a familiar foe to Colts' Pagano

Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano knows the Pittsburgh Steelers very well.

Pagano was an assistant coach with the Baltimore Ravens, serving as the team's defensive coordinator during the 2011 season. Since Baltimore and Pittsburgh both play in the AFC North, preparation for this week's game is old hat.

The two franchises will square off Sunday in a late afternoon game at Heinz Field. Indianapolis started getting ready for the Steelers Wednesday morning.

"(We) had a good start in preparation for our game with the Pittsburgh Steelers," Pagano said after the workout. "The Steelers, great club, great organization. We've got our hands full in all three phases. So we're going to have a great week of preparation in order to get ready for these guys."

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, in particular, has been a thorn in the sides of both Indianapolis and Baltimore since he came into the NFL in 2004. Pagano expects more of the same on Sunday.

"They're both great quarterbacks, both future Hall of Famers. I've been beat several times because of what (Roethlisberger) is capable of doing," the Colts coach said when asked to compare the abilities of the Steelers' signal caller with his own quarterback (Andrew Luck).

"They both have been able to beat opposing defenses because they're big, they're strong and they both have great arm talent. Just when you think that you have them sacked, they have a way of getting away from them. It doesn't matter whether its a defensive lineman or linebackers."

So how do you hope to stop, or at least slow down, the big and mobile Roethlisberger? It's certainly not easy to do.

"You try to keep him in the pocket as best you can," Pagano said. "If you're lucky enough to come free and get a chance to get him down, you'd better wrap him up.

"He's a hard guy to bring down. If he breaks contain, he can go ahead and extend plays. That's when they unleash a bunch of havoc on you. He's as good as there is in extending plays."

The Colts coach also discussed running back Le'Veon Bell, who leads the Steelers with 599 rushing yards.

"He's a beast. He's the second leading receiver on the team (36 receptions for 339 yards). He's big, he's strong. He's got great vision. He's a very, very patient runner. He's very tough when he gets to the line of scrimmage," Pagano said.

"It's kind of like, 'Now you see me, now you don't.' He's got burst. He can take it the distance. He can run you over. Catch it out of the backfield. This guy's dynamic. He's a dynamic kind of runner. He's tough to tackle, tough to bring down."

Overall, Pagano says that there are several reasons why Indianapolis has been able to string together five straight victories after getting off to an 0-2 start.

"We're playing better, playing complementary football. All three phases are playing well. I think we played well in Week 1 and Week 2, we just didn't finish. We got off to a slow start the first half of that first game and finished that one okay. We didn't finish off the second one. We're trying to put together complete games, 60-minute games in all three phases," Pagano said.

"We're getting good play out of all three phases. (But) we've got a lot of things to clean up. Even looking at the tape from (Sunday's win over the Bengals), there's a ton of things to clean up in all three phases. Confidence is good. The energy's good. They feel really good about themselves right now."

SERIES HISTORY: 21st regular-season meeting. Steelers lead series, 14-6. Pittsburgh has also won all five post-season meetings. The Steelers have won 12 of the last 16 and eight of the past 10 regular-season matchups. The two franchises last faced off on Sept. 25, 2011 with Pittsburgh posting a 23-20 win at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis won the last meeting at Heinz Field with the Colts taking a 24-20 decision on Nov. 9, 2008. The Colts are 1-1 in games played at Heinz Field, were 0-11 in games played at Three Rivers Stadium and was 1-0 at Pitt Stadium. Overall, Indianapolis has an 2-9 road record against the Steelers. Former Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns while WR Reggie Wayne had six catches for 114 yards and a TD in the last game between the two teams at Heinz Field. Former Pittsburgh WR Mike Wallace had five catches for 144 yards and a TD in the last meeting between the two franchises during the 2011 season.