A late rushing touchdown from C.J. Anderson and a two-point conversion from Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas, along with a 45-yard field goal from Brandon McManus capped off the Denver Broncos’ 23-16 AFC Divisional Round playoff win, Sunday, over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Sports Authority Field in Mile High.
Chris Boswell hit a late 47-yard field goal with 19 seconds left, but the ensuing onside kick attempt by the Steelers failed, allowing the Broncos to kneel out the clock to move on to the AFC Championship Game next Sunday against the New England Patriots in Denver.
Anderson was able to get into the end zone on the second effort from 1-yard out to give the Broncos the lead, before Manning found Thomas on a quick screen for the 2-point conversion to give the Broncos the seven-point lead that they would never relinquish.
Prior to the first touchdown drive of the game for Manning and the Broncos, Steelers running back Fitzgerald Toussaint fumbled the ball on Denver’s side of the field, giving the Broncos late life in a game that they led for just over 10 minutes.
Following the Toussaint fumble that was recovered by DeMarcus Ware, William Gay dropped a interception that hit him in the numbers, allowing the Broncos to retain possession and march down the field for the go-ahead score, sending the Steelers home after a trying season that was marred by injuries and inconsistent play throughout.
Coming into the game without Antonio Brown and DeAngelo Williams offensively, the unit got off to a lackluster start going three-and-out on the opening possession of the game, forcing the Steelers to punt.
Unfortunately, the first punt of the game for Pittsburgh was a sign of things to come for the special teams units as Denver’s Omar Bolden returned the punt 42 yards to set up the Broncos in great field position.
Five plays later McManus hit a 28-yard field goal to give the Broncos an early 3-0 lead.
Looking to answer the Broncos scoring drive with one of their own, the Steelers marched 48 yards in seven plays before turning the ball over on downs inside Broncos territory.
The drive was highlighted by a 37-yard catch-and-run by rookie receiver Sammie Coates to put the Steelers in Denver territory.
After the turnover on downs the Steelers and Broncos traded punts — one of which was a 27-yard punt by Jordan Berry — before Denver took over in great field position, eventually tacking on a 41-yard field goal by McManus to take a 6-0 lead.
Fortunately for Pittsburgh, the Steelers offense answered, marching 80 yards in five plays as Martavis Bryant hauled in a 23-yard catch and added a 40-yard run before Toussaint punched in the first touchdown of the game for a 7-6 Steelers lead.
The Steelers defense forced another three-and-out before the offense marched 60 yards in seven plays before Boswell drilled a 43-yard to give Pittsburgh a 10-6 lead midway through the second quarter.
On the drive Ben Roethlisberger found a wide-open Darrius Heyward-Bey for a 58-yard catch-and-run to put the Steelers in scoring position.
Denver would add a 51-yard field goal before halftime to close the deficit to 10-9.
Coming out of the half the Steelers added a quick 28-yard field goal by Boswell, thanks to a 52-yard catch-and-run by Bryant after Roethlisberger scrambled and found the second-year receiver left all alone along the left sideline.
Nursing a 13-9 lead midway through the third quarter the two teams traded punts before McManus added a 41-yard field goal to pull the Broncos within one, 13-12.
That’s when disaster struck for the Steelers as Toussaint put the ball on the ground following a big hit from Denver cornerback Bradley Roby, giving possession back to Denver near midfield.
After Anderson and Thomas added the touchdown and 2-point conversion, the Steelers turned the ball over on downs, allowing McManus to add a 45-yarder to take a 23-13 lead.
But much like they have all year the Steelers never quit, marching 51 yards in four plays, allowing Boswell to kick a 47-yard field goal to cap off the scoring for both teams.