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Steelers Film Room: First half coverage blunders vs. Broncos in Week 15

The Pittsburgh Steelers managed a big 17-point comeback against the Denver Broncos, but the comeback was necessary with all the first half defensive mistakes.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

We would be remiss to pass up on the opportunity to review the mistakes of the Pittsburgh Steelers in our film room series, so despite Sunday's victory being the biggest win of the season, we will take some time at where the Steelers could have done better.

First Play:

Demaryius Thomas looked like he was going to have another career day against Pittsburgh when he started the game with two first half touchdowns. The Steelers' defense appeared to be all out of sorts on this play when they had Ryan Shazier lined up over Thomas with a zone coverage scheme but no one to cover Thomas at the next level. Brock Osweiller quickly picked up the mistake and capitalized for the Broncos' first touchdown.

Second Play:

Emmanuel Sanders also had a big first half against Pittsburgh, highlighted by this long touchdown. A miscommunication on defense leads to Antwon Blake blitzing and no one being home to make this a difficult pass for Osweiller, whom had he been forced to hold the ball just a second longer, might have gotten sacked. Mike Tomlin got on his players for the mistakes and communication throughout the first half and going into halftime and this play was one of the biggest symptoms of those problems.

Third Play:

Throughout the first half the Broncos went eight for eight on third down conversions. Each of those seemed to come too easily to Osweiller who found open receivers with no one to even force a tight passing window. Here, Sanders gets a matchup with backup middle linebacker, Sean Spence, a matchup that Pittsburgh surely does not want and that Osweiller was happy to take advantage for another third down conversion.


The first half was an abysmal performance for the Steelers' defense that allowed 27 points and showed no signs of slowing Denver down outside of the forced fumble by Will Allen that led to Pittsburgh's only first half touchdown. That was mostly due to the communication breakdowns between defenders that led to easy matchups and open zones for the Broncos to run free.

But that all changed when Mike Tomlin took control on the sidelines and got the players to realize their mistakes and play an infinitely better second half.