The Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos had a lot of similarities heading into the Week 2 matchup at Heinz Field. Both teams were working off a short week after Monday night games, and there were plenty of injuries across both rosters.
It was the Steelers who won the opening coin toss and chose to defer their possession to the second half, giving Drew Lock and the Broncos’ offense the opening offensive possession. Even after the opening drive was aided by a Joe Haden pass interference call on third down, the Broncos were forced to punt on their first drive of the game.
Ben Roethlisberger and company took over at their own 20-yard line, but after a fumbled handoff by Dionate Johnson on the first play, it killed the drive before it even began. The result was a Dustin Colquitt punt after three plays.
The Broncos’ second drive was highlighted by some magnificent running by Melvin Gordon. After gashing the Steelers’ defense, Denver got away from the run and decided to throw the ball. It took only a few plays before T.J. Watt flushed Lock out of the pocket and Bud Dupree cleaned it up, causing a fumble which was recovered by Mike Hilton.
With the extra possession, Roethlisberger connected with Eric Ebron, JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington and quickly got the offense into field goal range. But the offense wasn’t settling for 3 points, and James Conner plunged into the end zone after a tough Smith-Schuster catch-and-run. The Chris Boswell point-after made the score 7-0 with 4:23 left in the first quarter.
On the sack by Dupree on the Broncos’ previous possession, Lock left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return for the next drive. With Jeff Driskel under center the offense sputtered and gave the ball back to the Steelers with 1:22 left in the quarter.
After a Steelers three-and-out, the Broncos started the second quarter with tremendous field position, and Driskel was able to do enough to get the Broncos on the board. The Brandon McManus 49-year field goal gave the Broncos their first points, making the score 7-3 with 12:07 left in the second quarter.
Pittsburgh had to settle with just flipping the field position game on their ensuing drive, giving the ball back to Driskel and the Broncos’ offense at their own 10-yard line. After one first down it was the Broncos punting the ball back to Roethlisberger and company.
The first play on the next possession was an 84-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to rookie Chase Claypool for the second Steelers touchdown of the game.
The Boswell point-after was good, making the score 14-3 with 6:23 left in the half.
On the very next play Driskel delivered a deep pass of his own, but following the big play over Joe Haden the defense stiffened and moved the Broncos backwards. Denver attempted a 58-yard field goal by McManus, but it sailed wide right, giving Pittsburgh great field position following the miss.
A three-and-out resulted from the great field position, but it was a tipped ball on Driskel’s next pass which landed in the hands of Joe Haden for the Steelers’ second takeaway of the game.
The turnover didn’t result in a touchdown, but a Chris Boswell field goal making the score 17-3, and that score would hold as both teams went into halftime.
The Steelers received the kickoff to start the third quarter, and when it looked like Pittsburgh was, at worst, going to flip the field, Roethlisberger threw his first interception of the season, giving Denver hope.
With a short field, Driskel was able to move the Broncos into the red-zone, but failed to punch it in for a touchdown. Instead, they settled for another McManus field goal to make the score 17-6 with 8:00 left in the third quarter.
Following the field goal, both teams exchanged possessions, but Denver drew next blood when Driskel drove the offense down the field and hit Noah Fant for the Broncos’ first touchdown of the game. A successful two-point conversion made the score 17-14 with 1:07 left in the third quarter.
Desperately needing a drive, Roethlisberger delivered in a big way. After converting on a 4th and 2, Roethlisberger was flushed out of the pocket and hit Diontae Johnson in the end zone for the first points of the second half.
The Boswell point-after made it a two score game again, making it 24-14 with 11:25 left in regulation.
After the Broncos ran three plays for zero yards, Broncos punter Sam Martin bobbled the snap and was tackled in the end zone for a safety. With the score 26-14, and the Steelers with the ball again, the first play from scrimmage was a Benny Snell Jr. fumble giving the ball right back to Denver with 9:40 left to play in the fourth quarter.
Driskel and company would not give up, and proved so by driving down the field and adding to their point total. A beautiful pass to Melvin Gordon made it a one score game again, 26-21 with 7:43 left.
Pittsburgh failed to do anything with the ball on their next possession, and Driskel and company continued their hot second half by driving down the field and putting them in position to take the lead in the game. In the red-zone on 4th down Driskel was sacked by Terrell Edmunds to turn the ball over on downs.
Needing just a first down to end the game, James Conner broke off a huge run putting the Steelers in the red-zone and sealing the win for the Steelers.
The 26-21 win moves the Steelers’ record to 2-0 on the season as they prepare for the Houston Texans to visit Heinz Field in Week 3. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they continue to roll through the 2020 regular season.