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Denver Outlasts Wounded Steelers To Advance To AFC Championship

Denver came into the game healthy and ready to take on the Steelers. Pittsburgh came in without the best Wide Out in football and their stand out back up running back, and lastly Ben Roethlisberger with a strained AC Joint.   Did we mention Le’veon Bell who is probably the best all around running back in football also hasn’t played in weeks.   We actually could go on, but why.  The fact is, this team plays with the next man up mentality and for three and a half quarters it worked.  That was until a late turnover, followed by a nice drive by the Broncos would end the Steelers season.  The final score tonight, Broncos 23, Pittsburgh 16.

It’s a tough night in Pittsburgh and I have already seen some fans talking about how this was a wasted season with a great quarterback.   I have even seen media members say the same. Weighing everything that had happened, there is no wonder they lost and if you play out every scenario and coaching move, you get back to the same ending.  This team was way too wounded to win a game like this.  Now, on to the Bronco’s.

The Denver defense was good but not great. It kept the Steelers in check as needed but this was not even close to the high powered offense we saw weeks ago.  The lack of AB being in the game and their overall inability to get the ball to Heath throughout the game made it hard for the Pittsburgh offense to get rolling.

Peyton Manning put a great drive together late that was the difference.  Otherwise, he was largely ineffective and will be again next week.  The elements were not his friend today as the wind was difficult and it kept most of his passes 10 yards or less.   His receivers did him no favors either as they would drop passes all game long.  The Steelers controlled play from about midway through the first quarter till about the 4 minute mark of the fourth.  The Broncos did enough to win the game.   And in a one and done scenario, that is the best you can ask for.

As for some initial thoughts from Mike Tomlin, here is a little of what he had to say. “Complimenting and congratulating the Denver Broncos on a winning performance.” “I appreciate the efforts of our own football team.” “There can only be one winner, and this year it is not us.”

“A question in regards to the last touchdown drive for Denver.” “Peyton is the ultimate play caller, he got them in some good checks.  We had to take some calculated risks, that is why I am sure they started him”

The Steelers out gained the Broncos by almost 70 yards for the game.  Big Ben passed for over 100 yards more than Peyton.  The difference was the running game for Denver late in the game.

The Play of the game was a play nearly directly after Fitz Toussaint fumbled the ball deep in Bronco’s territory.  With Denver taking over, the Steelers were able to get pressure on Peyton, so much so he gave himself up and went down. Only, Will Allen was blocked out of the way and no one touched Manning. Because the Steelers thought the play was over, Peyton got up and completed a pass.  It was his biggest of the game and it flipped the field on the Steelers.   That play, kicked off the game winning drive that would put the Steelers out of the game.  And don’t blame Toussaint, he is the third string back. He played about as well as could be expected.

Pittsburgh would have an opportunity to tie the game with 3 minutes left and 3 time outs.  But Denver was able to get enough pressure on Ben to limit his success.  The Steelers would end up turning the ball over on downs and from there the two teams would exchange field goals for a final score of 23-16.

The moral of the story is this, the Bronco’s won and they will move on to face the Patriots in Denver next week.   Pittsburgh will go home and start the healing process getting ready for what could be a very successful season next year.  No need to second guess or blame anyone.  This was a successful season for Pittsburgh regardless what anyone else may think.

 

 

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