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Big Ben's historic game lifts Steelers over Colts

Ben Roethlisberger became the first player in NFL history to throw for at least 500 yards in multiple games, leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 51-34 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Our takeaways:

  1. Roethlisberger's 522 yards are tied with Boomer Esiason for the fourth-most in NFL history. His six touchdown passes and 40 completions are the most by any quarterback in franchise history. His 81.6 completion percentage is the second-highest ever on more than 45 attempts. The numbers are not misleading in any way. Roethlisberger was on point all afternoon, dropping perfect throws into the hands of nine different receivers. More than just a career game, it was one of the most impressive aerial attacks ever seen on a gridiron. Quarterback play doesn't get any better.
  1. Andrew Luck stood toe-to-toe with Roethlisberger for three quarters. If not for a pair of costly mistakes, the final score would have been a lot closer. Not on the same page with Hakeem Nicks, Luck tossed a pick-six to William Gay early in the second quarter. He was later whistled for an intentional grounding penalty when he tripped and threw from his tuchis at the goal line, resulting in a safety that put the Steelers ahead by 10 early in the fourth quarter. The errors shouldn't overshadow a series of gorgeous throws by Luck, who became the first quarterback in franchise history with six consecutive 300-yard games. With half the season over, Luck is on pace for 44 touchdowns and 5,462 yards -- the latter of which would flirt with Peyton Manning's single-season record.
  1. We wrote last week that the Steelers needed a reliable third option to complement superstars Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell. Rookie Martavis Bryant has a chance to fill that role as a red-zone weapon and vertical threat. He's bypassing Markus Wheaton for the No. 2 receiver job.
  1. Rookie Donte Moncrief is better than Hakeem Nicks -- and it's not even close. Lacking any semblance of burst, Nicks was perhaps the eighth-best wide receiver on the field. He has no rapport with Luck.
  1. Vontae Davis' knee injury was a killer for the Colts' defense. They were forced to play more zone and paid for it. Without one of the NFL's premier press-man cornerbacks, the coaching staff didn't feel as comfortable dialing up blitzes. After allowing just four third-down conversions over the past four games, they surrendered seven on Sunday alone. They had allowed just 496 net passing yards combined over the last three weeks. That's how valuable Davis is to Greg Manuksy's defense. Indianapolis also lost linebacker Erik Walden to a hip injury.
  1. Trent Richardson (hamstring) was active but didn't see the field. Daniel "Boom" Herron was Ahmad Bradshaw's backup.
  1. Thanks to Roethlisberger's prowess, the Steelers survived lost fumbles in the second half from LeGarrette Blount and Darrius Heyward-Bey. They also handed the Colts a freebie field goal just before halftime when they eschewed a 52-yard field goal attempt for a Roethlisberger pooch punt that was blocked.
  1. Brown extended to 24 his NFL-record consecutive games with at least five catches and 50 yards. Leading the NFL in receiving, he's on pace for 120 receptions and 1,704 yards. At the season's midpoint, Bell is on pace for 2,172 yards from scrimmage.
  1. The Steelers are now tied with the Ravens for second place in the AFC North, just a half-game behind the Bengals. With talented rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier back in the lineup and Bryant lending the offense an added dimension, Pittsburgh has the talent to make a playoff run.

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