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Broncos vs Steelers: 8 winners, 3 losers, 1 both in Denver’s 24-17 win

Suddenly a Broncos playoff run doesn’t look so absurd.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos kept their playoff hopes alive.

Holy shit!

What seemed impossible two weeks ago is now a serious discussion after the Broncos 24-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1) on Sunday. Denver (5-6) has now won two-straight games against playoff-caliber teams, and when you consider the remainder of the schedule, the impossible suddenly feels less so. Many in Broncos Country held out hope for this result. Now, the Broncos making a playoff run looks very real.


Shelby Harris

His game-winning interception is enough to put him on this list, but when you look at his stats, you see he played a helluva overall game. Harris finished with three tackles, three quarterback hits, one pass defended and half a sack. Oh, and the game-winning interception in the south end zone. And if you didn’t know, Harris’ wife gave birth to their third child on Friday, a daughter. Talk about a memorable week.

Will Parks

If not for the Harris interception, this was the play of the game on defense. Not only did the Broncos safety prevent a touchdown, he forced a turnover. It’s proof why you never give up on a play. Parks also had six tackles.

Denver’s defense

As a whole, this unit delivered big play after big play. The Broncos may have given up a shit-ton of yardage to Pittsburgh’s offense (527), but to force four turnovers, get two sacks and allow 17 points is huge. As long as Denver’s defense creates turnovers like it has the last two weeks and the team wins, offenses can get all of the yards they want.

Case Keenum

For the third-straight game, the Broncos quarterback didn’t turn the ball over. In this game, Keenum also threw two touchdowns and 197 yards on 15-for-28 passing. The offense was clicking on Sunday, and there’s reason to think it can get even better in the last five games. It’s amazing what happens with this offense when it plays to its strengths.

Phillip Lindsay

All that’s left to say about this kid: he’s downright Philthy. Denver’s rookie running back finished with 14 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown. Lindsay also averaged 7.9 yards per carry. At some point, he’ll get more than 14 carries. I’d like to see that jump to 20-25. What makes this performance even more impressive, is Lindsay is the first running back to get at least 100 yards against the Steelers defense all season. To make Sunday even more Philthy, he set the Broncos’ undrafted rookie rushing record. And once again, Lindsay brought back the Mile High Salute.

Emmanuel Sanders

Denver’s veteran receiver led the offense with seven catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. The heart Sanders plays with is contagious, and to see the Broncos test the defense with his speed adds another element for the offense.

Matt LaCosse

The third-year tight end caught his first career touchdown. LaCosse also coordinated the celebration after that TD. LaCosse finished with three catches for 34 yards. When you add in Jeff Heuerman’s two catches for 44 yards, you see Keenum also is involving the tight ends. It’s the latest evidence Denver’s offense was clicking on Sunday.

Playoff hopes

Given a win over the No. 2 seed in the AFC, those hopes are very much alive. As noted earlier, when you look at the last five games that’s more than “hope.” The combined schedule of those five teams is 21-33-1, and that gets skewed by the Los Angeles Chargers (8-3). Not to mention two of those games are against teams in the playoff hunt.


Broncos special teams

Credit for the blocked field goal, but the fake field goal for a touchdown takes that away. So in this situation it’s both. Since we’re on special teams, Tim Patrick’s play to down the ball at the 3-yard line was epic. Of course, that gets lost because on the next play the secondary did its thing.


The Frequent Flyer Zone

It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns for Denver’s defense. The Broncos secondary was torched on Sunday. As the unit has done most of the season, it hands out yards at a breakneck speed.

Von Miller

It was good to see Denver’s pass rusher finally show up at the end of the game and get half a sack, but he has to be better than that. It’s hard for someone to be invisible in orange, but Miller somehow pulled it off.

Vance Joseph

For Denver to win this game, we all knew it would have to overcome the incompetence of its head coach. For the second week in a row, the Broncos did that. It’s beyond evident opposing coaches know how bad Joseph is. We saw it Sunday with the Steelers’ fake field goal at the end of the first half. All that was missing was Mike Tomlin verbalizing it like Bill O’Brien did. Denver’s playoff hopes are alive, but it’s clear John Elway and the Broncos need to move on from Joseph.