Game Recap: A Tale of Two Halves (Broncos at Steelers)

via Post-Gazette/Peter Diana photo

by Homer J. 

[This is going to be the only recap for the nonce, as I haven’t even had an opportunity to watch the game. Family and travel have made life even more than ordinarily difficult. Here are some of Homer’s stream-of-consciousness thoughts from viewing the game, and his report card.]

Homer had a lot of comments at the beginning of the game, which all seemed to boil down to this:

Denver defense looks quick and aggressive. 

Things get more exciting:

Hillman on second down, finds hole on right side, but Will Allen strips the ball and it bounces into Mitchell’s hands. First down PIT at the 21. 

Ben pitches to D-Will in the right flat…he breaks a tackle and waits for his blockers and drives down to the two yard line. D-Will off the right side behind Wallace, Gilbert and Co for the TD. 7-0 

I gather that was almost all the scoring in the first half of the game, on the Steelers’ side:

BO hits Osweiler, who finds seam at goal line for TD.  7-7.

Denver not only converted three third downs on that drive, they converted one of them after being 2nd and 17. The secondary, once again, looks porous. 

And then on the next drive: Denver D is looking impressive. They can out-quick Steeler OL. 

Gotta punt.

And then:

DISASTER!!!  Nobody home in the deep backfield on a blitz. Osweiler hits Sanders who was twenty yards behind either Mitchell or Allen. Somebody missed an assignment, and it cost them seven points.  Denver has scored two TDs in 1:50, and the secondary may soon be eligible for federal funds as a disaster area. Looks like Allen missed the assignment. He rotated halfway over…but let Sanders go.

It didn’t get better, either:

Osweiler back to pass….receivers covered…but Osweiler waltzes into end zone. 

So much concern over coverage…no one home to spy on Osweiler. Missed PAT.

20-7.  Denver has outplayed Steelers on both sides of the ball so far. 

After a long drive:

Boswell BARELY makes 25 yard field goal. Scrum after play.  Kick clangs off goal post, but bounces in.  Denver lineman actually got a hand on the kick. 20-10 DEN.

The game continues:

Osweiler scrambles for 7. Gets hit hard by Spence. 2nd and 3.  (Note: little did we know at time how key that hit was)

Again, Osweiler goes short down the middle for another first down. 

Osweiler has gone 7 for 7 on third down. That’s a formula for disaster.

Hillman for two up the middle. Tomlin with a very serious look on the sideline. Two minute warning. Steelers need a stop here, since they will be kicking off to start the second half.

Osweiler hits Thomas with quick pass to right…Thomas easily shrugs off Blake and scores. 27-10.  

Osweiler heads off the field, with left shoulder injured.

On the next Steelers series:

On 3rd and 2, Bryant gets first down at the 45. Denver sent two secondary guys up the middle, and Bryant almost broke that one.

Ben hits Heath to midfield. One minute left in half.

D-Will stays home and throws a great block, and Ben hits Wheaton , who goes waaay high to bring it in at the DEN 28 yard line. Last time out with 24 secs left.

Boswell from 41 yards. Kick is perfect. 27-13.  Makes it a two TD game.  27-13 at the half. 

“It’s tough to beat anyone when you are playing like that,” says Mike Tomlin. Yep.

Denver has absolutely outplayed Pittsburgh on both sides of the ball, and the Steeler secondary has been worse than awful. Osweiler 14-18 in first half, 7 for 7 on third down. 

4 TDS, 124 yards. He is eating the Steelers alive.

After the half:

On 2nd and 20, Shazier breaks up pass to Anderson. 3rd and 20.

Anderson on draw play….stopped after three. Anderson shaken up. This will be Denver’s first punt with 13:16 to play in the third quarter. They were 8-8 on third down in the first half. Britton Colquitt sighting. It is confirmed that Denver DOES have a punter.

Ben hits Brown who makes miraculous catch, knocking ball up with one hand and catching it with both.  3rd and 11.

Ben hits Wheaton for first down…after getting great protection. D-Will and AV led the blocking.  To DEN 46. 

Denver jumps offside, free play. Ben hits Bryant for first down.

Ben goes long to AB, who is interfered with on sideline. First down in red zone. 

1st and goal at the nine. Ben hits AB to TD, beating Harris Jr on corner of EZ. 

PAT good. 27-20 with 7:16 left in 3rd qtr. 

After some more exchanges:

Osweiler sacked by JJones and Heyward. at DEN 18. End of 3rd quarter. 4th and 20, Denver O going nowhere in a hurry now.

Punt returned to PIT 40 by AB. 

Ben hits AB on down and out to DEN 48. First down.  12 receptions 132 yds 1 TD for AB so far.

Ben hits AB on crossing pattern, turns corner for 20 yards to the 28.

Wheaton across the middle to the 17. Denver seems to have lost a step, Roughing the passer call against Jackson takes it to the 9. 

Ben is going no huddle. Quick outside pass to Wheaton, who fights off tackler and takes it for seven.  PAT good. 27-27. Maybe the LACK of altitude is bothering Denver. 

In their next series:

Incomplete on 2nd and 5. Steelers playing much more man-to-man. Also seeing more of Boykin. Big 3rd and 5 here. 

Golden jumps route, almost comes up with big INT. They’re gonna have to punt again.

Colquitt short punt – 33 yards – to PIT 37. Downed by Denver there. 

And later:

Osweiler pressured, scrambled, hits Hillman for first down, but there’s a holding call against Denver! At long last, the flags are flying in our way!

Osweiler should have completed pass, but receiver has bad case of alligator arms.

Denver has lost their composure. 

Berry punts to the 12. Downed there.

Osweiler scrambled, dodges rush, thorws pass intercepted by Shazier.  Tuitt with the huge rush, Dupree follows up. Shazier jumps route and makes diving INT.

Ben hits Bryant on outside screen Runs and dives for 9 yards.

D-Will bulls forward for a first down. 3:49 left. Steelers at DEN 23.

Ben stays in no huddle. HITS AB FOR 23 YARD TD…Brown finds seam between man coverage and deep help.  34-27. They were 17 down and have scored 24 unanswered points. 

But wait:

OMG! Ben was going to go long, threw short to D-Will, and it was intercepted at the PIT 40.  Question is whether the INT was completed before the defender went out of bounds. Call on the field stands. Nothing comes easy, you know. Why? 

First down: inc.  2 minute warning. 2nd and 10 at PIT 41.

Second down….Allen steps in front of pass, but can;t hold on. 3rd and 10. 

Third down…Sanders falls down….4th and 10. 

Fourth down pass for Sanders, knocked down by Will Gay, who does victory dance after outstanding defensive play. Ben needs to take Gay to dinner this week. 


QUARTERBACK:  B+. Wanna know why you lost your A? The D saved your A.

RUNNING BACK: B-. D-Will was okay running, but superb blocking.

TIGHT ENDS: Inc. Heeath was fine blocking, but barely targeted at all. When you are dealing with a blitzing defense like Denver, you need to stay home more. 

OFFENSIVE LINE: B. Denver has an exceptional defense, but the OL gave Ben enough time to eat them alive, especially in the second half.

RECEIVERS: A. They are so good, the teacher doesn’t even bother to read their papers before giving them an A. A as in Antonio. 

DEFENSIVE LINE: B. Didn’t give up any big runs. Put some decent pressure on Osweiler at times. Made some big plays, especially Tuitt on the Shazier INT.

LINEBACKERS: B. Coverage in first half was awful. Coverage in second half was awesome at times. Shazier made a couple of huge plays.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: C-. They were dreadful in the first half, but switched to man to man in the second half and really stepped up.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A-. Lucky as hell on the “downed punt,” but Shamarko had actually stepped out of bounds when he touched the ball, so it made no nevermind. Otherwise, all kicks and punts ended up fine, minus the style points. Only minus was Denver’s reverse on kickoff return.

COACHING: A+. This team was down 17 just before the half, and scored 24 unanswered points. The injury to Osweiler appeared to play a big role in that, but the biggest change was the Steelers completely changed their defensive alignment and went from a zone coverage designed to stop the run to a man-to-man to stop the pass. They didn’t panic, and completely shut down Denver in the second half.  It was a Tale of Two Halves. It was the worst of times. And then it was the Best of Times!


  • Ya know… I’m perfectly fine with the D saving Big Ben’s A… they owe him a few to begin with, considering the awful first half.


  • cold_old_steelers_fan

    It was the worst of games then it was the best of games. That game gave me the Dickens but all’s well that ends well, eh Shakespeare.

    To properly grade that game, you would have to give separate report cards for each half.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually thought of giving them two separate report cards – one for each half – but, as you and Bill S say, all’s well that ends well, and a first half report card would have been much ado about nothing — because nothing was all they showed in the first half.

      Liked by 1 person

  • It is hard for me to give coach an A when they put our team in the soft zone with Blake still getting playing time in the first half. Right now I am not sure if our secondary is bad or if our scheme is bad, though I am leaning to the latter.


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