The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off an emotional win on the road over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 14. Head coach Mike Tomlin was asked if there might be an emotional letdown after such a physical game. The coach shrugged the question off, as he does most questions, but Denver Broncos safety T.J. Ward might have gotten the Steelers attention with comments made to reporters Tuesday as the team prepares to make the trek to Heinz Field in Week 15.
Ward's comments, which were documented by The Denver Post's Cameron Wolfe, were pointed at the high-flying Steelers offense which has put up 30 or more points in their last 5 games. Some would say they are the hottest offense, and team, in the NFL right now.
"They're hot because they haven't played us yet," Ward said. "A lot of teams were hot before they played us."
To be completely honest, the Broncos defense hasn't allowed 30 points the entire season, nor have they allowed an opposing passer to throw for over 300 yards. Ben Roethlisberger is averaging 332 yards per game, and in a battle between offense and defense, something has to give.
The Broncos are coming off a loss to the Oakland Raiders, but the secondary shut down Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, the Raiders' top two receivers, by holding Cooper to no catches and Crabtree to 4 catches for 19 yards. "They came to the no-fly zone," CB Aqib Talib said. "That's how it goes out here."
There is one main issue with the comparison, and that is there is no comparison between the Raiders offense and the Steelers' offense. Crabtree and Cooper are a far cry from the weapons the Steelers deploy on a weekly basis. Antonio Brown is one of the best receivers in the league, and pair him with the likes of Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton and you have matchup issues, regardless of the defense.
Nonetheless, the Broncos are looking forward to the matchup.
"These are the games you want. You want those teams to challenge you," CB Chris Harris said. "You're going to have a lot of opportunities to get interceptions."
Roethlisberger has thrown his share of interceptions in just 9 games this season, but Harris may want to be careful what he requests when "wanting" the Steelers offense. The Steelers are a "pick your poison" style offense which will simply take what the defense is giving them.
Against the Seatte Seahawks Richard Sherman took Brown out of the game, but Markus Wheaton had a big day with 201 yards receiving. Against the Raiders, Bryant was limited in his production, but Brown was the one doing the damage to the tune of 284 yards receiving. Against the Bengals in Week 14 the defense wanted to prevent the deep ball, and Roethlisberger connected with Heath Miller 10 times and Wheaton 4 times for a combined 131 yards receiving between the two pass catchers.
This will be the matchup to watch this Sunday at 4:25 p.m. EDT, but Ward might want to take a lesson from the Bengals' playbook and not poke the bear leading up to the game.
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