Steelers Hold Off Broncos 26-21
Legendary NFL Films narrator John Facenda often said that ‘Great teams aren’t always great, they’re just great when they have to be.” And if you asked the Pittsburgh Steelers to rate their performance vs, the Denver Broncos, the odds are that they may not tell you that is wasn’t particularly ‘great,’ but the fact that they at one point led 17-3 and were able to hold on and win 26-21 is proof that they were definitely great ‘when they had to be.’
Makin’ moves 💨 @JamesConner_ pic.twitter.com/j2SySY7gCa
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 22, 2020
Here is an example of the Steelers great moments:
- After giving up 11 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter, the Steelers lead was trimmed to 17-14 early in the 4th quarter and QB Ben Roethlisberger was Joe Montana-like and coolly led his team down the field and on his final play, he rolled out the pocked and fired the ball downfield and into the hands of WR Diontae Johnson to extend their lead to 24-14.
- With the Steelers holding onto their 26-21 lead, the Broncos advanced to the Steelers 15 and were at a 4th and 2 with 1:55 left in the game, and S Terrell Edmunds blitzes and sacks Broncos QB Jeff Driskel ending their hopes for a game-winning score and giving the ball back to the Steelers.
- RB James Conner who had been quiet most of the game after scoring an early TD, took the ball with 1:47 left in the game and ran for 59 yards to the Broncos 10. They then forced the Broncos to use their timeouts and let the clock run out for the victory.
“It’s good to grow while you win” Said Steelers head coach Mike Tomin. “We were far from perfect,” head coach Mike Tomlin assessed. “We gotta get better. We’re thankful to win in spite of it.”
And as a result, the Steelers open the season 2-0 for the first time since 2017. They also endured turning the ball over twice and getting flagged 10 times for 89 yards and turned it over twice. Steelers win.
“We were highly penalized. We’ll look at the penalties and look to play cleaner. It was an Achilles heel for us today. It extended drives. It allowed those guys to remain in the game.”-Said Tomlin.
The underdog Broncos refused to give up, even after starting QB Drew Locke left the game early in the first quarter after getting sacked by Steelers LB Bud Dupree which led to CB Mike Hilton recovering the ball. In came Driskel and he got the Broncos back in the second half as he passed for 256 yards, 2 TDs and an interception. He came close to doing the unexpected against the Steelers top-ranked defense and as a result, there may be a QB controversy in Denver.
“They were a resilient bunch. They fought us the whole way,” said Tomlin. “We helped them some. We have a lot of growth ahead of us but it’s good to grow while you win. Today, I thought we were loose with the ball some. We turned the ball over, particularly at a significant period in the game.”
That 1️⃣st career TD feeling 🔥 pic.twitter.com/6EvkV8KeGK
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 21, 2020
But the Steelers never lost a lead that began in the first quarter with Conner’s 2-yard score and got extended when Roethlisberger (311 yards, 2 TDs, Int) found rookie WR Chase Claypool for an 84-yard TD, which was the first career score for the Notre Dame graduate. Claypool would finish the game with 88 yards on 3 receptions.
The Steelers defense made life miserable for the Broncos in the first half as they sacked the QB 6 times (7 overall) with Pro Bowl LB TJ Watt leading with 2.5. Veteran Pro Bowl CB Joe Haden also intercepted a Driskel pass which led the way to an FG by K Chris Boswell and a 17-3 halftime lead.
But unless you are the Steel Curtain, those types of leads are not safe, especially after the Steelers offense blew several scoring opportunities, to add to that lead. As a result, it kgave the Broncos life as they scored 11 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter to get to withing 3 of the Steelers. But that is as close as the Broncos (0-2) would get.
Conner finished the game with 106 yards, and the TD. Johnson led all receivers with 92 yards on 8 receptions and FB Derek (brother of TJ) Watt recorded a 4th quarter Safety after the ball rolled out of the endzone.
The Steelers will now prepare to host the Houston Texans (and TJ and Derek’s brother JJ Watt) next Sunday at Heinz Field. Meanwhile, the Broncos will head home to host The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and QB Tom Brady.
“We made the necessary plays. We understand early in the season we are not going to be perfect. We were good enough to win. We will make the necessary corrections tomorrow and then push forward.”-Said Tomlin
Notes-The Steelers played in front of an empty Heinz Field, due to Covid-19 protocols. The 84- yard TD reception by WR Chase Claypool was tied for the fourth-longest by a rookie in franchise history…Pittsburgh owns a 51-34-3 (.597) record in Home Openers, including a 16-4 (.800) mark at Heinz Field.