Steelers bow out of playoff with 23-16 loss to Broncos :56

Steelers Jeffrey

Photo used courtesy of: Jeffrey Beall. (CC) Some rights reserved.

The Steelers faced long odds as they prepared to take on the Broncos Sunday afternoon in Denver. They were without their top two running backs in Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams, the best receiver in the NFL and team MVP Antonio Brown, and, of course, their real MVP–quarterback Ben Roethlisberger–was dealing with a sprained shoulder suffered in the wild card victory over the Bengals a week earlier.

However, despite those injury problems, Pittsburgh actually led, 13-12, early in the fourth quarter and looked poised to at least extend  that lead to four. Unfortunately, reserve running back Fitzgerald Toussaint fumbled after appearing to pick up a first down, and the Broncos recovered at their own 35.

Veteran quarterback Peyton Manning then led his offense on a 13-play scoring-drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown plunge with three minutes remaining. Following a successful two-point conversion on a pass to receiver Demaryius Thomas, Denver led, 20-13.

One final, realistic attempt by the Steelers to tie the game was thwarted when Roethlisberger was sacked on fourth and five with 1: 56 remaining. After Denver took over on downs and extended its lead to three on a field goal, Pittsburgh made it a one-touchdown game on a 47-yard kick by Chris Boswell. However, a desperation onside kick with mere seconds left was recovered by the Broncos, and Pittsburgh’s season filled with injuries and adversity was officially over.

For the game, Roethlisberger completed 24 of 37 passes for 339 yards and no touchdowns and showed no limitations from the shoulder sprained suffered against the Bengals when linebacker Vontaze Burfict sacked him and landed on his throwing shoulder.

After two Brandon McManus field goals gave the Broncos an early 6-0 lead, Pittsburgh  took the lead late in the first quarter on a one yard touchdown run by Toussaint to make it 7-6.

The two teams traded field goals through the next two quarters, before Touissaint’s fumble proved to be the critical turning point.

All things considered, it was a good season for the Steelers, one that will perhaps point the way toward future championships, provided they can stay relatively healthy.


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