On Second Thought: Broncos vs Steelers Merry Christmas from the Steelers

via Steelers.com

by Ivan Cole

During the years when the team is in the playoff hunt, games in and around the Christmas holiday can have a special resonance, the first and best example being the Immaculate Reception game which took place two days before Christmas. Elimination or irrelevancy can put a pretty gloomy pall over what is supposed to be a festive time. For 2015, the Steelers have us beginning Christmas week with a Victory Monday, not a small thing for Steelers Nation.

A flawed team
Following at least one of the points I made in my piece on approaching the finish line, despite the impressive victory plenty of the team’s flaws, particularly defensive, were on display, causing Homer J. to comment that this group probably won’t go far in the playoffs. Homer can be depressingly accurate when he’s being pessimistic, but the larger point has been missed. Unlike a day ago, if the season ends now the Steelers go to the playoffs.

With full recognition that in spite of their abysmal records, the Ravens and the Browns remain dangerous, if for no other reason that some joy could be salvaged by either one of them if they could drag Pittsburgh into the grave with them, we are now spared the need to watch the scoreboard, not to mention having the opportunity to complete the season by kicking some dirt on two rivals that always deserve rough treatment at our hands.


I made a little off color reference that an impressive performance against the Broncos might make for some bouts of incontinence among the playoff crowd when contemplating having Pittsburgh in the mix. And while Homer’s references to the team’s shortcomings are spot on, there is the matter of spotting the best defensive team in the league four touchdowns, trailing by three scores and then dropping 34 on them and shutting down their offense cold in the second half. America noticed.

So the Steelers just completed a two game sweep of the two best teams (according to their records) in the AFC not named New England, and averaged slightly better than 33 points per game. Yeah, everybody can’t wait to line up against the black and gold.

Who Dey, who dey think they want to play the Steelers? Nobody!

Mike Tomlin pooh-poohed the idea that there were any significant coaching adjustments made for the second half of the game. The Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac wasn’t buying it and neither should you. The team, particularly the defense, was not just playing better, they were playing differently as well as better. I made brief mention of Joey Porter’s influence in Approaching the Finish Line, and apparently he made quite the inspirational speech to the defense at halftime.

Hail Emmanuel

I also mentioned that Sanders was one of several former Steelers receivers who were doing quite well in their new homes. As one of the announcers said, Sanders and Brown were once again putting on a pretty good show at Heinz Field. It’s just that they were playing for opposing teams now.

And that would be Mister Antonio Brown

AB demonstrated once again to a national television audience why he is the best receiver in football. Chris Harris is a pro bowl cornerback who hadn’t given up a touchdown pass in two seasons. He gave up two to Brown on Sunday. Nine catches and two touchdowns. Second consecutive 1500 receiving yards season (team record). Third consecutive 100 catch season (tied for league record). That’s just a taste of it if you weren’t fortunate enough to witness it.

And we would be remiss if it wasn’t mentioned that Markus Wheaton had quite the day as well. Martavis Bryant also played well though it seems below standard when he doesn’t have at least one touchdown play.


As good as Brown was, Ben Roethlisberger was recognized as the best player on the field this day, though he made one of the most boneheaded plays of his life at the end of the game. Remember when I made reference weeks ago about Steelers games sometimes mimicking the ending of horror/chainsaw type movies?

The defense, protecting a touchdown lead, forced the Broncos to turn the ball over on downs with less than three minutes left to play. Although Denver still had all of their timeouts, the offense basically just had to run clock and ideally get just one first down to finish the game. Inexplicably, with no real pressure Ben throws a pass into the teeth of double coverage to DeAngelo Williams, who even if he caught it had no chance of advancing the ball for a first down. The ball was intercepted.

Rev up that chainsaw. Denver has the ball on a short field and two minutes and one second to attempt to at least tie the game. Fortunately, the defense rose up one more time and stopped the Broncos again on downs.

And for that little bit of unnecessary drama, Homer’s grade for Ben was a ‘B’.

Personally, I think Ben should reimburse me for the year of my life that he took with that decision.

Personally, Ivan, I think that if NFL players had to reimburse all of us for the pain and suffering they cause, you wouldn’t be able to pay them enough to keep up…


  • lol
    Depends on how many checks you send to the players every time they make you jump, holler, and dance like a lunatic when they come up with a big play.


  • cold_old_steelers_fan

    Diaper rash? To me the team’s ability to suck it up at half time and make the changes necessary to win and to implement them tells me that team has the ability to go very deep into the off-season (if they get there). There are still a lot of young and/or relatively inexperienced players on this team as well as a defensive co-ordinator who has been around a long time but has never been the guy in charge at this level (afaik). They did a lot of growing out there yesterday and gained a lot of confidence in the process.

    I don’t know if there is a better team in the league at this moment with the possible exception of the Panthers. I think our biggest problem in the AFC will be the Pats and that may be as much a mental block.

    Speaking of mental blocks, Ben seems to be making at least one very odd decision per game, usually late in the game (or maybe that is only when we notice them). Is he having fatigue issues?


  • As always, we were watching the same game. Or should I say, the same games. The burgers were great, the beer cold, and the company was excellent.

    In the first half, the Yonkos were 8-8 on third down. In the second they were 1-9, and made it past midfield maybe once….other than the INT with 2;01 remaining.

    But my concern is that Wilson shredded the secondary for 38 points, and Osweiler looked like Elway for a half. The way that Demarius Thomas swatted away Blake on the short pass and run for the TD made me cringe and wonder if the secondary has the personnel to handle any good quarterback who is having a good day. You can coach guys up, but you can’t coach height, bulk, strength, or speed. And I’m just not sure they have the horses — especially at the corners to go deep into the playoffs.

    That puts a huge load on the front seven, and on the coaching staff to execute schemes to create havoc and force offensive mistakes.It can happen, to hide or lessen the weakness in the secondary. It can happen, but you can also see them giving a lot of points against a team that can protect the QB.

    They are young, and inconsistent on D. If the young studs in the front seven continue to gel and stay healthy, they can prove me wrong. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they do.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I was agreeing with Homer by half-time then the Steelers decided to quit playing soft zone and have the corners man up which just happened to coincide with Blake’s butt hitting the bench. IF our secondary gets its act together this team march through the playoffs could last into February.

    What team in the AFC is better than the Steelers? I got nobody. Which team in the NFC is better than the Steelers? The Panthers….I don’t know, maybe.

    Every team has a weakness, but can the Steelers many strengths make up for the weakness of our secondary. We shall see, but no matter how we may have felt watch the first half of Sunday’s game, the second half should keep our hopes and dreams alive.

    Merry Christmas, GoingDeep. God’s blessings to all you all.

    Go Steelers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patriots – until the Steelers get that monkey off their backs
      Cards, Panthers, Seahawks – I’d make them all the favorite against the Steelers. Seahawks, especially, are looking in top form now.


      • Agree with all. Would like to second Ivan’s thought not to buy into what Tomlin said about not making adjustments. That is coach speak, because it was obvious. No coach, the players didnt just “need to play better”. The defensive scheme wasn’t working. Just glad that it was recognized and the necessary amount of pride was swallowed in order to change it.


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