The Pittsburgh Steelers are facing a situation in which they must keep pace with the Jets and Chiefs, who have won or are winning their games to reach 9-5. The Steelers enter the game at 8-5 hosting the Denver Broncos in their final home game of the season, who are 10-3, having gone 3-1 with Brock Osweiler at quarterback, but coming off a 15-12 loss to the Raiders.
The Steelers got the ball first, starting at the 20 after a touchback. Ben Roethlisberger‘s first pass went to Martavis Bryant off the right side for six yards. On second and four, Derek Wolfe batted Roethlisberger’s pass down at the line of scrimmage. He completed to Markus Wheaton for the first down, who was conscious enough to keep running after the catch when it seemed his knee might have been down.
From the 38, DeAngelo Williams got his first carry of the day for four yards. Williams caught the second-down pass for four yards to set up yet another third and four. Linebacker Danny Trevathon did a nice job of making the tackle on Williams on a screen pass for a short gain. Jordan Berry‘s punt was fair caught inside the 20, but a hold on the Broncos set them back inside the 10.
On first down from the one, Ronnie Hillman was stuffed for a short gain. He found a lane for 10, but Will Allen knocked the ball out and Mike Mitchell recovered it.
Taking over at the 21, Williams caught a screen pass and took it all the was to the two-yard line, breaking tackles and showing patience. On first and goal, Williams punched it in from two yards out for his ninth touchdown run of the season, nabbing the early 7-0 lead for the Steelers.
From the 20, Osweiler’s first pass attempt was wide of Demaryius Thomas. On second down, he connected down the field to Emmanuel Sanders in front of Antwon Blake, who tried to play the pocket. Another grab by Sanders picked up 11 to the 45-yard line. Hillman was good for three up the middle on first down. He escaped for another five to set up third and two. Osweiler found Thomas for 11 yards across midfield.
On first and 10 from the 36, Osweiler fumbled the snap and was tagged down for the sack by Lawrence Timmons for a loss of seven. On second down, Sanders got the yardage back with a nine-yard gain, setting up third and eight at the 28-yard line. Osweiler found Josh Norwood in the middle of the field for the first down.
From the 18, Osweiler tucked it for a one-yard gain on a busted play. He narrowly avoided a sack just to get rid of the ball on second down. Osweiler found Thomas for the score on third down in between Allen and Ross Cockrell to tie the game.
Following another touchback, and a false start, Antonio Brown hauled in his first catch of the game, in doing so passing Yancey Thigpen‘s 1398 receiving yards, a record that stood for 18 years until Brown broke it for the past three seasons. Williams was stuffed for no gain on second and five. On third down, Roethlisberger went down for the sack. It was Wolfe, who fought through a Cody Wallace hold. Berry’s second punt reached just the 39-yard line of the Broncos, where it was fair caught at 44 yards.
Osweiler took advantage of a blitz with blown coverage as Sanders streaked past the entire secondary for a 61-yard, one-play touchdown drive, now down 14-7.
Roethlisberger completed for a first down to Bryant on first down. Wheaton picked up eight on a drag route over the middle, but an illegal hands to the face for an automatic first down was accepted instead.
From the 40, Roethlisberger looked deep to Bryant, who turned into a defensive back to tip the ball over the defender and prevent an interception. Aqib Talib stayed down after to play after getting friendly fire, and came off the field. On second down, after an offside, Roethlisberger completed to Brown for a first down, but Wallace ran down the field with a late hit to draw an unnecessary roughness penalty.
The penalty set the Steelers back to the 37. Josh Bush intercepted Roethlisberger’s overthrown ball down the field, returned to midfield. An offensive pass interference was called on Thomas on first down. On first and 20, Stephon Tuitt brought down C.J. Anderson after a two-yard gain. Sanders was knocked down by Blake to set up a third and 11. After an offside made it third and six, Osweiler easily completed to Sanders for about eight yards.
From the 37, Osweiler threw quickly to Thomas for another first down to the 20. Anderson picked up five on first down. Breaking right to escape pressure, Osweiler threw incomplete outside the right sideline. On third down, an easy completion to the tight end set up first and goal. From the eight, Hillman picked up what was blocked for him, down to the one-yard line. Against the goal line defense, Hillman was stretched wide, resulting in a loss of six, tackled by Robert Golden. On third and goal, Osweiler had about half the field open to run it in for the third straight touchdown, taking a 20-7 lead after a missed extra point, the second-most the Broncos have scored in game in which he has played this year.
Wheaton took the kickoff out of the end zone returned to the 21. On first down, Roethlisberger escaped pressure and stepped up to hit Brown for the first down, 17 yards. Roethlisberger could not hit Bryant on a slant with Talib in coverage. On second and 10, Brown made Chris Harris miss after a catch to pick up the first down.
Bryant made a tackler miss on a screen pass to the right side that gained 15. Roethlisberger’s first incompletion of the drive could not reach Wheaton breaking to the left sideline. On second down, a holding penalty negated a big gain that would have set up first and goal to Brown. Instead, it was second and 20 at the 46. Roethlisberger grounded the pass. A lucky break came in the form of a pass interference penalty covering Darrius Heyward-Bey, resulting in a 24-yard gain, spotted at the 22.
Brown caught another pass for nine in front of Harris. Williams pushed the pile ahead for the first down and a bit more to set up first and goal. The first pass was complete to Brown for about four. Roethlisberger’s second-down pass was dropped by Bryant in tight coverage. On third and goal, Roethlisberger and Wheaton were not in sync on an incompletion to the right sideline. Chris Boswell connected on his 25th field goal of the season to make it a 10-point game at 20-10.
Osweiler took off for seven on first down. Sanders took an end around up the right sideline for 24 yards across midfield. Osweiler grounded the ball to avoid a sack on the following play. Hillman picked up seven to set up third and three. Yet again, a third-down conversion to Sanders put the Broncos in field goal range.
A holding call made it first and 20 at the 46, with Thomas getting most of that back, but but Arthur Moats was flagged for illegal hands to the face, making it first and 10 at the 31. Jarvis Jones defended the left edge against the run to make the tackle after two yards. On second down, Brandon Boykin made the tackle on Sanders after seven. On third and one, Hillman punched through the line for 14 yards to set up first and goal. Mitchell was injured on the play.
Tuitt was in on the tackle from the eight for two yards. Thomas out-muscled Blake one-on-one on a screen to beat the cornerback for the touchdown as the Broncos took a 27-10 lead, with Osweiler’s third touchdown pass and fourth overall.
Osweiler left the field into the locker room nursing his left arm after the throw. Wheaton returned the ensuing kickoff out to the 26. Williams was dropped for a loss on a draw play. Bryant made a defender miss for 10 yards to set up third and two. Roethlisberger pumped before throwing a short slant to Bryant, who had room to run after the catch for 11.
From the 45, after using the first timeout with 1:10 left, Heath Miller caught his first pass for five yards to midfield. Roethlisberger was dropped again for a loss of nine, Shane Ray beating Alejandro Villanueva. On third and long, Roethlisberger completed to Brown, who was able to get out of bounds.
Wheaton went up high to snag an errant pass for another first down as the Steelers used their final timeout after the first down to the 28. Roethlisberger completed to Miller for five. Roethlisberger clocked it with eight second left to set up Boswell for a 41-yard attempt. The first-year kicker was good, right down the middle, making 26 of 28 on the year. The Steelers bring a 27-13 deficit into halftime.