DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 9: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 hands the ball off to Running back Jonathan Dwyer #27 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during a game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on September 9, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Steelers 31-19. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
It was a tale of two halves for the Steelers in their 31-19 loss at Denver in Week 1.
The first half was all about the run, where the second half emphasized the pass - even before Denver built their insurmountable lead.
The game plan itself clearly was to run the ball early and often. In the Steelers' first two series, they ran on both first and second down three times, and passed on third down. They failed to rush for a first down, and two completions by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger moved the chains on third down. He took a sack on the third, leading to punts on both of the Steelers' opening possessions.
This plan was solid, establishing the run was a key the Steelers would need to focus on to find success in the hostile environment of Mile High. They didn't count on superior efforts from rookie defensive end Derek Wolfe, who spend much of his night on the Steelers' side of the line of scrimmage.
By their third possession, the Steelers had run the ball with four different players - Isaac Redman, Chris Rainey, Antonio Brown and Jonathan Dwyer. A holding penalty negated a great run by Dwyer, the Steelers still managed to get inside the red zone, targeting tight end Heath Miller twice but failing to score a touchdown.
The variety was apparent, and Roethlisberger's arm strength and percision passing had moved the sticks three times out of four - his first miss was on 3rd-and-goal.
In the end, the Steelers ran the ball 14 times out of the 27 first down plays they had. In the first half, though, they ran nine times of the 12 first down plays they ran, and threw incompletions on the three passes they called.
This shows the emphasis placed on establishing the run, and while it wasn't racking up huge yardage, the Steelers dominated time of possession and went into the locker room up 10-7.
It changed a bit in the second half when they ran five times of their 15 first down plays. This is skewed somewhat due to the ninth and final drive when they trailed 31-19.
Overall, the offensive game plan appeared to run on early downs in the first half (14 of 25 plays run on first and second down were runs in the first half, 56 percent). That approach changed in the second half, throwing on 27 of the team's 39 total downs (69.2 percent).