Well, the Denver Broncos didn’t exactly show up against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It took most of the game for the offense to show up, and the defense gave up some big plays. The comeback in the 4th ended up being too little too late as Denver fell to the Steelers 27-19.
It took just 6 plays for Ben Roethlisberger to lead the Steelers on a TD drive against the Broncos defense. So much for Big Ben looking like a potato. Maybe he’s a broken clock, right twice a day, but his offense torched the Vic Fangio’s defense.
The Broncos answered with a 3 and out. Not the best answer from the offense, but the defense stepped up on the Steelers next drive. Malik Reed got Denver’s only sack of the game, stripping Roethlisberger, with AJ Johnson scooping it up and returning it to the Pittsburgh 29. Don’t worry. The offense was able to get a field goal.
It became a bit of a kicking contest at that point. Trading punts and field goals until the Steelers put together another TD drive, which included a big catch and run by Chase Claypool. Eventually, Najee Harris punched in a one yard TD run.
The answer from Pat Shurmur’s offense? How about a 5 play, 26 second drive that ended in a Sam Martin punt? At least Pittsburg didn’t find a big play at the end of the half. Denver would get the ball to start the second half. What could they do to turn things around?
Nothing. They punted. And then the Steelers had another big drive, which ended when Roethlisberger hit Claypool again. This time, for an 18 yard TD on 3rd and 10. The defense struggled with big plays all game. The offense struggled to respond.
Those struggles on offense ended on the very next drive. The Teddy Bridgewater-led offense showed up about halfway through the third quarter. Courtland Sutton woke up after a rough first half, hauling in a big 25 yard play that helped set up a TD pass to Kendall Hinton.
After a Steelers 3 and out, the Broncos scored quickly. Bridgewater hit Sutton again on a 4th quarter strike for a 39 yard TD. The comeback was on, but time was running out. The Steelers put up another field goal, making the task that much more difficult.
On the Broncos final offensive drive everyone came alive. Tim Patrick made big catches. Noah Fant finally got involved. Then Kendall Hinton made another big play, making a catch that brought the offense down to the 9 yard line. From there, it all stalled out, and eventually ended on the first INT for Bridgewater in 2021.
The game ended with a bit of a whimper. They should have beat the Steelers, but the game plan, preparation, and execution was a huge miss. Somehow, Vic Fangio’s defense was outplayed by an offense led by a QB that has looked bad all season. Pat Shurmur continues to ignore his running backs. Javonte Williams averaged 7.2 yards per carry, but only carried the ball 8 times? Why?
The big takeaway from the Broncos loss to the Steelers is the coaching has to get better.
The first three weeks were a mirage. Against the Steelers and Ravens, the coaching staff was outcoached. Should the trend continue, there will be a lot of questions asked about whether this is the coaching staff to lead the Broncos back to success.