Colts’ Jeff Saturday, Matt Ryan explain questionable clock management in final minutes of loss to the Steelers

There were several factors that played into the Steelers’ 24-17 win over the Colts on Monday night. Indianapolis’ poor clock management on the game’s final drive was certainly one of them.

With 3:52 to go, the Colts moved from their own seven-yard-line to the Steelers’ 37-yard-line by the two-minute warning. Still armed with all of their timeouts, the Colts picked up a first down when Matt Ryan hit Michael Pittman for a four-yard gain on the first play after the two-minute warning.

Ryan was sacked on the next play by Alex Highsmith but declined to use a timeout, which resulted in 36 seconds coming off the clock. The Colts declined to call a timeout again after Ryan ran for 14 yards on the next play, resulting in an additional 29 seconds coming off the clock before Indianapolis took its next snap.

With 30 seconds left, the Colts finally called a timeout after Jonathan Taylor was stopped for no gain on third down. The Colts walked off the field with two unused timeouts after Ryan’s fourth-down throw to Parris Campbell was broken up by Minkah Fitzpatrick, securing the Steelers’ win.

“I thought we had plenty of time,” Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday said of the Colts not calling a timeout following Ryan’s run. “We still had timeouts. I wasn’t really concerned. When he was going down, I couldn’t tell where they were going to [mark] Ryan from going down. … I expected us to get on the ball and have another play a little bit quicker than that.

“This wasn’t a press for time. We just didn’t make enough plays.”

Like Saturday, Ryan thought that the spot of the ball following his run played a factor in the Colts’ clock mismanagement. The veteran quarterback thought his run merited a measure.

Had the officials given Ryan a first down, he would have had those times outs in his back pocket with four downs to work with. Unfortunately for him and the Colts, it didn’t work out that way, as the officials determined he slid several yards short of the sticks.

“I thought I was maybe a little bit closer than where they spotted it,” Ryan said, “but that’s neither here nor there. … I don’t mind the call.”

The Colts had rallied back from a 16-3 deficit to take a 17-16 lead entering the fourth quarter. But similar to last Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia, the Colts were unable to keep their lead in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh, despite losing running back Najee Harris in the first half to an injury, took the lead for good on backup running back Benny Snell’s two-yard touchdown run. The Steelers received an inspired effort from rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, who picked up his first road victory.

While it was a big win for Pickett and the Steelers, it was another tough loss for the Colts, who dropped to 4-7-1 and 1-2 since Saturday and took over as interim head coach.

“It’s disappointing,” Ryan said. “It really is. I think the effort is good, but our execution hasn’t been good enough.”

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