Former Broncos WR Rod Smith recalls how excited Denver was to play Pittsburgh in 2005 AFC Championship game

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Broncos legend Rod Smith remembers how excited the Broncos were to face the sixth-seeded Steelers in the 2005 AFC title game. Excited, that is, until the Steelers steamrolled them in the first half, jumping to a 24-3 lead, and ultimately taking a 34-17 loss.

Mike Vanderjagt's kick sailed hugely wide of the uprights, and Steeler Nation rejoiced.

So did Broncos fans. Instead of a trip to Indianapolis to take on the high-powered Colts, they would be hosting the sixth-seed Steelers.

Rod Smith, a Broncos legend and one of the better receivers of his era, remembers how excited the team was, but remembers cautioning them to stay focused.

"Pittsburgh came to us, and everybody was excited about that," Smith told the Broncos team web site. "And I was like, 'No. You've got to go play. It's not about being excited about playing at home. It has nothing to do with that. You've got a football game. You can't worry about all the other stuff.'"

Whatever stuff the Broncos worried about that day, it didn't seem to be the red hot Pittsburgh Steelers.

Or at least not Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who shredded the Broncos' secondary as if he saw each play in advance. He had arguably his best playoff performance that sunny day in Denver, completing 21 of 29 passes for 275 yards and throwing two touchdowns, including the game-ender - a 15-yard strike to Hines Ward at the end of the first half, putting the score at 24-3.

That touchdown came off an Ike Taylor interception of quarterback Jake Plummer, and it was all the Steelers needed to choke out the AFC's second-seed for their third straight road victory.

The Steelers would eventually become the first sixth seed to win the Super Bowl after becoming the first team to beat the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 seeds in a conference in order to get to the final game.

Denver hosts the New England Patriots Sunday in the 2013 AFC Championship, the first time the franchise has hosted the conference title game since that shellacking at the hands of the Steelers.

It would seem like a good time for Smith to remind the favored Broncos not to overlook their opponent.

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