Before the game, we predicted the key "5th Quarter Points" to the game and how that would dictate the outcome of the football game. Let’s take a look at those points and see how each team fared.
Protect Peyton Manning – As pointed out, if the Steelers were able to get to Peyton three or more times with a sack, the Broncos would have a hard time winning the football game. As it turns out, the Steelers recorded only two sacks. Thus, the Broncos offensive line was able to protect Peyton Manning. There are still areas for improvement, but count this as a solid “check mark”.
Sack Ben Roethlisburger – The Denver Broncos sacked Big Ben a total of 5 times (three came on the last drive, and two of those were by Von Miller)! The Broncos could improve in this category. They hit Ben several times but failed to bring him down. If the Broncos were playing any other quarterback in the league, they would have had more than 5 sacks.
The whole point of getting to Roethlisburger was to limit the big offensive pass plays. Well….The Broncos only allowed 4.6 yards per passing completion! This number is amazing since the Broncos averaged almost double that amount, 8.6 yards per passing completion. What does this mean for the secondary of the Denver defense? They did their job against those speedy wide receivers. Champ Bailey and company kept the high powered, quick Pittsburgh offense at bay. There is still room for improvement, but still an excellent job by the Denver Broncos secondary!
Run the Ball and Stop the Run – Denver stopped the run, cold. Pittsburgh ran the ball 26 times (71 pass/rush plays total, including sacks) and averaged 2.9 yards per carry. With Denver holing the Steelers to 2.9 yards per carry, it limited the Steelers offense (to passing) and allowed for the Broncos to anticipate the pass on most offensive plays. Therefore, if the Steelers were going to beat the Broncos, it had to be done with Ben’s arm.
How did the Broncos do with their own rushing game? They were not great. The Broncos had 27 rushing plays (55 pass/rush plays total, including sacks) and averaged 3.5 yards per carry. Last year, the Steelers allowed an average 4.0 yards per carry, so the Broncos have room to improve in their rushing game. The key point here is that the Broncos didn’t get beat by the running game. The Steelers did control the time of possession, but with quick scores by the offense, and a pick six scored by the defense along with a stingy defense, the Broncos came out on top.
In summary, the Broncos executed two of the three suggested points. Not bad, but there is room for improvement. Let’s see what the Broncos can do against a very difficult opponent in their home town on Monday Night Football next week when the Broncos take on the Falcons. As a word of wisdom; don’t go thinking the Broncos are the team to beat just yet, but feel good that the team got a win against a tough opponent in the Steelers. They can improve, just hope for zero setbacks.