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Steelers 26, Broncos 21: Jeff Driskel led comeback effort falls short

After a roller coaster of a game that at times was a comedy of errors, the Broncos eventually succumb and fall to 0-2.

Denver Broncos v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Broncos came out looking to avoid going 0-2 for the second year in a row under Vic Fangio, as they tackled their first road game of the season against the Steelers.

Drew Lock going down early in the game looked to be a death knell for the team, but Jeff Driskel stepped up admirably and the Denver defense got some key turnovers to make up for terrible special teams play.

However, the team couldn’t get out of their own way, giving up seven sacks and once again letting a game within striking distance slip out of their fingers.

The focus will now be on how long Drew Lock will remain sidelined and if Denver can salvage the early part of their season.

1st Quarter

Denver took the field to begin the game and came out firing to Courtland Sutton immediately. Looks like Pat Shurmur wanted to start fast and come out aggressive with Drew Lock slinging the ball right out of the gate.

A key pass interference call on 3rd down kept their first drive alive but it stalled out around the 40 yard-line.

Michael Ojemudia made a nice play on 3rd down to force the Steelers to punt on their first drive.

Melvin Gordon got going on the Broncos second drive with several nice runs, as Denver countered the Steelers blitzes by pounding the rock. However, what looked like a solid drive, ended in disaster when Drew Lock held the ball too long and ended up fumbling it away to the Steelers.

Even worse than the turnover, Drew Lock came up injured on the play after falling hard on his right shoulder.

With Lock getting looked at in the locker room, Big Ben marched the Steelers down the field to capitalize on the turnover. Ojemudia had a chance for an interception in the end zone that went through his hands, and the Steelers punched it in a few plays later.

The biggest news of the game is obviously Lock being out. Jeff Driskel steps in at quarterback as we head into the second quarter.

Steelers 7 - Broncos 0

2nd Quarter

Driskel made a few plays in the passing game to get Denver in field goal position, and McManus got the Broncos on the board.

Steelers 7 - Broncos 3

The Denver defense held tough and forced the Steelers to punt, giving Jeff Driskel and the offense some help.

The Broncos offensive line continued to struggle with the Steelers’ blitz, and the offense under Driskel just looked completely inept.

The Steelers didn’t take long to take advantage, as rookie Chase Claypool burned Michael Ojemudia up the left sideline for a long touchdown.

Steelers 14 - Broncos 3

Jeff Driskel started the next drive out with a really nice deep throw to Courtland Sutton, but the offensive line continues to be absolutely unable to protect the quarterback, and the drive eventually stalled with a missed long field goal.

The injuries continued to pile up for the Broncos as Jerry Jeudy went over the middle for a tough catch and took a big hit from Devin Bush. Jeudy was ruled probable to return.

The Steelers took advantage of a ball that went through Sutton’s hands to notch an interception of Jeff Driskel, and bring it all the way back to the red zone.

The Broncos defense held strong, forcing a field goal so the Broncos head into halftime down 14.

Steelers 17 - Broncos 3

3rd Quarter

The Steelers came out with a strong kick return to start the half and looked to be gaining momentum, but Justin Simmons came up with a big interception and return to give the Broncos the boost they needed, and set up the offense in great field position.

Jeff Driskel hit KJ Hamler and Noah Fant for big first downs to get them down in a goal to go situation. Denver, unable to punch it in after yet another sack set them back, had to settle for a field goal.

Steelers 17 - Broncos 6

The Broncos defense held up on the subsequent series, forcing a punt after a 4th down stop. Aside from the big play against Ojemudia, the Denver defense has performed pretty well considering.

While Jerry Jeudy did return from being shaken up earlier, Courtland Sutton left the game and didn’t return.

Driskel continued to find Jerry Jeudy and Noah Fant, though, and threw a great corner route to Fant for a touchdown to put Denver back into the ball game. Fant also converted the subsequent two point attempt.

Steelers 17 - Broncos 14

We now have a ballgame!

4th Quarter

The Steelers continue to be aggressive, going for it on 4th down, which led to a great play by Ben Roethlisberger for another Steelers touchdown later in the drive.

Steelers 24 - Broncos 14

Instead of responding on offense, the Broncos put themselves into a deeper hole with terrible special teams play. After poor field position from a bad decision to bring the ball out of the end zone on a kick return, the mistake was compounded with the punter, Sam Martin dropping the snap in the end zone, leading to a safety.

Steelers 26 - Broncos 14

However, just when it seemed like Denver was completely out of the game, the defense forced a fumble that was recovered by Kareem Jackson, giving the Broncos a ray of hope.

Jeff Driskel continued to hang tough and lead the team back down the field, dropping a beautiful pass into Melvin Gordon for a touchdown.

The roller coaster continues!

Steelers 26 - Broncos 21

The Broncos defense came up big again with a key stop, to give the offense a shot at coming back for a winning score.

A pass interference call and an amazing grab by Noah Fant got Denver down into Steelers territory.

The Broncos ended up giving away a chance to get a first down, missing a 3rd and 2 and giving up their 7th (!) sack on the final 4th and 2.

Final Thoughts

The coaching staff deserves credit for keeping the team together as the game looked very close to snowballing out of control multiple times. It would have been very easy to fold under all the mistakes, but the Broncos kept fighting, despite all the blunders.

I thought the Denver defense had a nice game, keeping the offense in it with multiple turnovers and giving them plenty of chances. In the end, the mistakes were too many to overcome and Denver drops to 0-2 to start the season, for the second straight year.

The Broncos are still a team who just doesn’t seem to know how to win.

Speedy recovery, Drew.