Steelers' defense forces three takeaways to hold off weakened Colts

PITTSBURGH -- The Colts were driving in the final minutes of Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, aided by an untimely pass interference call against Steven Nelson. It seemed like a matter of time before Indianapolis would find a way into the end zone to take the lead.

But Bud Dupree bottled up Colts RB Marlon Mack on third-and-1 to stall the drive, bringing out struggling kicker Adam Vinatieri to attempt a winning 43-yard field goal. Vinatieri missed, sealing a 26-24 Steelers victory fueled by a dominant performance from Dupree, T.J. Watt and the Steelers’ defensive line.

Colts quarterbacks were sacked five times, and Indianapolis had to play most of the game with Brian Hoyer at quarterback after starter Jacoby Brissett was knocked out early in the second quarter with a left knee injury.

QB breakdown: Mason Rudolph had a solid outing, completing 26 of 35 attempts for 191 yards with a touchdown and an interception -- but there were two blemishes: 1) Rudolph threw an interception on the first drive that went through JuJu Smith-Schuster's hands; 2) Rudolph was strip-sacked by defensive end Justin Houston in the end zone for a Colts safety in the third quarter. It was just the sixth time Rudolph had been sacked all season.

Pivotal play: Minkah Fitzpatrick’s pick-six. He intercepted Hoyer at the 4-yard line, returning it 96 yards for a touchdown, the second-longest in Steelers regular-season history. It’s the third interception for Fitzpatrick in two games after his two-pick performance against the Miami Dolphins a week ago. He has four since joining the Steelers in a trade for the team’s 2020 first-round pick in Week 3.

Biggest hole in the game plan: With both James Conner and Benny Snell Jr. out Sunday, the run game looked a lot different from the duo who chewed up 158 yards against the Dolphins on Monday night. Jaylen Samuels and Trey Edmunds were a strong tandem at times, but the Steelers finished with a total of 90 rushing yards. Samuels had 10 rushing yards but also 13 receptions for 73 yards -- which sets the team record for receptions in a game by a running back, breaking Le'Veon Bell's mark. But the two struggled in short yardage in the red zone -- gaining 6 yards on six carries -- leading to the Steelers to settle for two fourth-quarter field goals.

Buy on a breakout performance: WR James Washington. He had his best game of the season with four catches on all four targets for 69 yards, including a 40-yard catch over rookie Rock Ya-Sin in the fourth quarter. Washington has been quiet this season, but playing with his college quarterback, it felt like only a matter of time before he hit his stride.