The Pittsburgh Steelers managed to win a game in the postseason this time around for the first time since the 2010 season, but they fell today in the Divisional round to the Denver Broncos. In case you were unaware, that has been nothing new.
Today’s game was the eight postseason matchup between the Steelers and Broncos, the most for either team against any other opponent. The next-most common competitor for the Steelers would be the Raiders, whom they have faced five times.
But the Broncos have now beaten the Steelers five times, ending a Pittsburgh postseason run for the fifth time after today, and now having won the two most recent contests, as well as four of the most recent five contests between the two teams.
The Steelers dynasty of the 70s squared off against a Craig Morton-quarterbacked Broncos team in 1977 and lost in the Divisional round, but came back to beat the Broncos in 1978 en route to their third Super Bowl in franchise history, the first franchise to do so.
The two teams did not meet against until 1984, when the Steelers secured their second victory in the rivalry, yet again in the Divisional round of the playoffs, but they went on to lose in the AFC Championship game to the Dan Marino-led Dolphins.
Another five years passed, but the Broncos, now with John Elway, squared up against Pittsburgh for the fourth time in 1989, with Denver coming out on top with a late fourth-quarter rushing touchdown to secure the 24-23 victory.
Eight years later, Elway got the better of Pittsburgh again in the 1997 AFC Championship game, this time winning by a field goal with a score of 24-21. The Broncos that time went on to win the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.
But the Steelers got their revenge in 2005, blowing out Jake Plummer’s Broncos team in the AFC Championship game, following which Pittsburgh secured its first Super Bowl championship since the 1979 season.
That is the last time that the Steelers have beaten the Broncos in the postseason, with Denver coming out on top in the two most recent meetings, and both will be games to remember.
The first of those two games, of course, came with Tim Tebow at quarterback in the 2011 Wildcard round. The Steelers tied up the game late to send it to overtime, but Tebow hit Demaryius Thomas for an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of overtime in one of the most infamous postseason losses in NFL history, and certainly in franchise history.
Now, the Steelers have lost to their fourth different Broncos quarterback, this one among the greatest of all time in Peyton Manning, even if they were playing shorthanded, and with a quarterback with an injured shoulder.
Following today’s loss, the Steelers are now 3-5 against the Broncos all-time in the postseason, and 2-3 against them in the Divisional round. Neither team has gone on to win the Super Bowl in any of the eight games that have come before the AFC Championship game, however, so that does not bode well for Manning’s Broncos.