INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts' unbeaten ride is picking up so much steam even their opponents see the possibility of perfection.
The Colts shoved aside another formidable challenger last night, handling the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-7. From their first offensive play, when Peyton Manning hit a streaking Marvin Harrison for an 80-yard score, the Colts dominated another good team.
It's getting to be a habit for Indianapolis, the 11th team to go 11-0 and the first since Denver in 1998. The Colts have beaten three of their main AFC competitors -- the Patriots, Bengals, and Steelers (7-4) -- in a span of four weeks.
''It's tough to go undefeated, but they have the potential," Steelers receiver Hines Ward said.
''Time will tell," added Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher. ''There's not a lot of holes, they force you to play a 60-minute game, and they can hit you at any time."
Such as immediately, which Manning did as Harrison blew past Ike Taylor.
Now they can look forward to the final month of what is becoming an extraordinary season.
''Is it a burden being 11-0? I never thought of it as that," said Manning. ''It's an honor because of the respect I have for NFL teams. It's hard to win 11 games in a season, let alone the first 11."
In shutting down Pittsburgh with a staunch, aggressive defense that yielded only 197 yards, the Colts also ended a seven-game slide in this series dating to 1984.
They handed Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger his first road defeat; he was 9-0, but couldn't do much in his first game back after missing three weeks because of knee surgery.
''We went to New England and beat the AFC East leaders, we beat Cincinnati and Pittsburgh," coach Tony Dungy said. ''Knowing we can beat the good teams and defending our turf is a good feeling."
Edgerrin James became the first rusher to gain 100 yards against Pittsburgh in 23 games, running for 124 on 29 carries.