Steelers Outlast Broncos 27-19; ends losing streak
[Pittsburgh,Pa] After their third consecutive loss, the Pittsburgh Steelers wanted to make a statement when they welcomed the Denver Broncos to Heinz Field for their next game and that statement was this: That they were tired of losing. They were also tired of the reports that the offense had no fire, the offensive line was not effective and that QB Ben Roethlisberger had nothing left. And for one week, they Steelers were able to squash all those concerns as they defeated the Broncos 27-19 in front of a home crowd of 59,841.
“Man, we’re really excited about the victory.” Said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin “I’m appreciative of all the effort in all three phases to produce it. It was not without its challenges but that’s what we expect on this Sunday, level of football, but we needed this one today. Obviously was a big one, and the guys responded in a big way from start to finish. I just like the way we came out of the locker room and just continued to fight and complement one another.”
For the first time this season, the Steelers showed that they were committed to the run as the offensive line had a stellar performance, paving the way for rookie RB Najee Harris’s first 100- yard game of his young NFL career. Harris rushed for 122 yards on twenty-three carries and scored his second career TD late in the first half.
“Just like I talked about on Wednesday, he’s getting better every week, but I think that’s a reasonable expectation.” Said Tomlin regarding his rookie running back “We are talking about a guy who has some talent, obviously, but who is getting acclimated to the professional game, the learning what the experience is what it is, he’s a sharp guy and he’s learning quickly.”
QB Ben Roethlisberger also performed well as he passed for 253 yards (15/25) and 2 TDs, one on a 50-yard pass to WR Diontae Johnson (2 Rec, seventy-two yards) and an 18-yard pass to WR Chase Claypool who led all WRs with five catches for 130 yards. Once the Steelers took the 7-0 lead on their first drive, they never trailed the rest of the game. K Chris Boswell also added 3 FGs for the Steelers.
“The offense got started fast. We needed that.” Said Tomlin “The defense supported the offense when we turned the ball over and got a stop and made them settle for a field goal. We needed that. We hadn’t done that. We were able to finish strong at the end. Offensively, drive the length of the field, kick a field goal on defense. Obviously get stout there with our backs up against it. Man, it’s a lot to build upon hopefully as we move forward, but not looking big picture at all just what we were able to do today, I’m appreciative of that.”
The Steelers defense was indeed stellar for three quarters, limiting the Broncos offense to only six points (2 Brandon McManus FGs), but in the fourth quarter, QB Teddy Bridgewater and the Broncos offense started to come alive as he converted three 4th down conversions and 2 TDs to erase the Steelers 24-6 lead.
Bridgewater’s first TD was to WR Kendall Hinton on a 1-yard score and his second one was a 39-yard strike to WR Courtland Sutton who burned Steelers CB James Pierre. After the Steelers added three more points on Boswell’s second FG, Bridgewater and the Broncos was at it again as they not only converted another fourth down conversion but got the ball to the Steelers 2-yard line and were in position for another score and a possible 2-point conversion attempt to tie the game and force overtime.
But for the Steelers sake, it did not end that way as LB TJ Watt and the defense kept the pressure on Bridgewater and with seconds left on fourth down, the Bronco QB’s final pass landed in the hands of Pierre for a game-clinching interception, which brought the home crowd to their feet.
Bridgewater finished the game passing for 288 yards (24/38) 2 TDs and an interception. Although he was sacked three times, (By DEs Harry Mondeaux and Isaiahh Lowdermilk and LB Devin Bush) he mostly avoided the Steelers pass rush with a quick release to his open WRs. Sutton led all Broncos WRs with 120 yards on seven catches.
When asked what the key to the Broncos offense was getting back into the game in the fourth quarter, Tomlin replied “They hit a big play.”
But the bottom line for the Steelers was that for the first time since their game against the Buffalo Bills was that they had more points than their opponent and no matter how pretty of ugly it is, a win is a win. The Steelers are now 2-3 and will face a 2-3 Seahawks team next Sunday night at Heinz Field with hopes of getting back to .500.
“Time will tell the story. We are appreciative of the efforts and the win we got today. But those type of perspectives and things of that nature will be revealed to us as we continue to play.” Said Tomlin
Notes: Bush (leg), WR JuJu Smith-Shuster (Leg) and Harris (Cramps) all suffered injuries in today’s game.
Please e-mail Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him @RP2872_Jr on Twitter