INDIANAPOLIS — Antonio Brown has a history of making big plays against the Indianapolis Colts.
Thursday night was no different.
Brown hauled in three touchdown catches of more than 20 yards to give the Pittsburgh Steelers a 28-7 victory over a depleted Colts team that was missing star quarterback Andrew Luck.
"I don’t take it for granted, but I’m not surprised by it," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of his star receiver. "He maximizes opportunities."
Even when Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t throw much. He finished the game 14 of 20 for 221 yards with three TDs.
Brown took full advantage of his chances by scoring on three of his five catches and finishing with 91 yards, two short of joining Hines Ward as the only receivers in franchise history with four straight 1,000-yard seasons.
Brown has 23 receptions for 342 yards and seven TDs in three career games against the Colts.
Those weren’t the most interesting numbers to the Steelers (6-5), though. They helped their playoff chances with a second straight win and snapped a four-game losing streak on Thanksgiving, a stretch that began with a loss at Detroit in 1983.
Luck sat out with a concussion, and his absence showed as Indy’s first winning streak of the season ended at two games.
While replacement Scott Tolzien hung tough most of the night, the performance wasn’t good enough to extend the Colts’ 10-game winning streak on Thursday nights.
The Steelers built a 21-7 lead by scoring touchdowns on each of their first three possessions — a 5-yard run from Le’Veon Bell, and touchdown catches by Brown of 25 and 33 yards.
Indy’s only score came on a 5-yard TD pass from Tolzien to Donte Moncrief early in the second quarter, a play set up by the first completion of Pat McAfee’s career on a fake punt.
The Colts (5-6) had two chances to trim the deficit but Tolzien was stopped twice on third-down runs at the 1-yard line, and the Steelers forced incompletions on both fourth-down plays.
"This is a humbling league and God, when you’re that close, we’ve got to put them in," Tolzien said. "Personally, I look at those two opportunities. I had two chances with the ball in my hand and I just wish I could have punched them in."
Bell ran 23 times for 120 yards.
Tolzien finished 22 of 36 for 205 yards with one TD and two interceptions.
Colts greats Tony Dungy and Marvin Harrison received their Hall of Fame rings at halftime. Dungy was the coach of the 2006 Super Bowl championship team that celebrated its 10-year anniversary Sunday. Harrison is the team’s career leader in receptions, yards receiving and TDs and also played on the title team. Both were inducted into the Hall of Fame in August.
Steelers: LB James Harrison was escorted off the field by officials in the first quarter after getting dinged. Pittsburgh safety Mike Mitchell (stinger) left late in the first half. Neither stayed out long.
Colts: It was a rough night. After starting the game without Luck, they lost center Ryan Kelly (left shoulder) on the opening series, right guard Denzelle Good (neck and shoulder) on the second series, cornerback Vontae Davis (groin) in the second quarter and receiver T.Y. Hilton (bruised lower back) late in the first half. Good and Hilton both returned but then left again in the second half. Kelly and Davis did not return at all. Outside linebacker Robert Mathis (elbow) exited late in the game and did not return.
THEY SAID IT
Steelers: "When you’re in the huddle with him, you know you’re going to have a chance to make some big plays," Brown said, referring to Roethlisberger.
Colts: "When you’re on the goal line, the 1-yard line, you’ve got to find a way to punch them in and we didn’t," coach Chuck Pagano said.
Steelers: Will try to extend their winning streak to three Dec. 4 when the New York Giants visit.
Colts: Hope to have Luck back in the lineup when they visit the New York Jets on Dec. 5.