Broncos 24 Steelers 17

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)

                         Steelers Costly Mistakes Result in 24-17 loss to Broncos

The Pittsburgh Steelers travelled to Denver to face a Broncos team that (at least according to record) had the look of focusing on 2019 rather than 2018. But after playing those Broncos Sunday, they learned that looks can be deceiving as they fell 24-17. Thereby, continuing their mastery over the Steelers at Mile High Stadium.

“Disappointing, but you have to give Denver credit.” Said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “They had a great performance. We did not, and we accept responsibility for that. It was the turnover ratio, we didn’t do a good job of taking care of the ball and we also didn’t do a good job of getting the football. I just finished telling the team that you must look at it from that perspective. It’s a dual responsibility, we didn’t take care of the ball well enough and we didn’t balance that out by getting the ball. When you’re minus whatever we were in the game, it’s going to be tough to win.”

It truly was the Steelers beating the Steelers, as they didn’t look like the team that won their previous 6 games. The reason why? Turnovers. The Steelers turned the ball over 4 times and the Broncos committed none. Here is a summary of the Steelers turnovers:

  1. A catch by TE Xavier Grimble that should’ve been a 23-yard TD, instead resulted in a fumble that rolled out of bounds when he was hit by a Broncos defender.
  2. A Ben Roethlisberger interception that stalled a drive.
  3. A fumble by RB James Conner after making an impressive catch that was good for 23yards.
  4. A goal-line interception by Roethlisberger with over a minute left in the game that sealedthe game for the Broncos.

On Grimble, Tomlin said “I don’t take any credit away from guys that are competing and plays that people make, but I coach Xavier and I’m focused on the ball security element of it.”

Such results will always hurt a team and it not only cost the Steelers the game, it ended their 6- game losing streak and put them out of the running for a 1st round bye as they are now 4th in the AFC at 7-3-1. But it has no affect on their standing in the AFC North Division as they remain in 1st place.

The loss also ruined an excellent performance by WR JuJu Smith-Shuster as he caught a career- high 13 passes for 189 yards, including a 97-yard TD pass that briefly gave the Steelers a 17-10 lead. Also, K Chris Boswell showed his passing skills as he faked a FG attempt and instead threw the ball to a wide-open T Alejandro Villanueva for a 2-yard TD to tie the game at 10 before halftime. Roethlisberger himself passed for 462 yards, but those 2 interceptions ruined a good outing for him.

On if he saw something in the Denver Broncos field goal coverage or wanted to give his team a spark before halftime that led him to call for a fake field goal, Tomlin replied “Both.”

Like their college roommates the Panthers, the Steelers failed to seize the opportunity early in the game and it burned them in the end. For the 2nd straight week, the running game struggled as Conner only rushed for 53 yards as the Broncos defense was ready for him.

The Steelers defense did what they could against Broncos QB Case Keenum, but it was obvious that they were worn out because of the turnovers on offense. Keenum (175 yards, 2 TDs, 0 interceptions) was flawless and simply got the job done, and RB Phillip Lindsay ran all over the Steelers D for 115 yards on 14 carries and a TD. Former Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders had 86 yards on 7 receptions and a TD and TE Matt Lacosse had his team’s other TD.

On why the Broncos were able to run the effectively against them tonight, Tomlin replied “Again, I’m not displeased with anything in terms of how the game unfolded other than the turnover ratio. Some of that minutia we’ll look at when we watch the video.”

So now the Steelers need to learn from this and come back to Pittsburgh to prepare for the 8-3 LA Chargers, whom they will host next Sunday night at Heinz Field.

“It’s a dual responsibility, we didn’t take care of the ball well enough and we didn’t balance that out by getting the ball.” Said Tomlin. “When you’re minus whatever we were in the game, it’s going to be tough to win. We’ve got some work to do, we’ll do it, we’ll absorb this and whatever comes with it and get back to work tomorrow.”

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