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|09-10-2012, 05:58 PM||#1|
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Recapping the Steelers' 31-19 loss to the Broncos
Recapping the Steelers' 31-19 loss to the Broncos (read more)
The Steelers opened up their regular season schedule in Denver on Sunday night, where the true storyline resided—both on the field and off. Scrolled atop the marquee of this event, of course, was the return of quarterback Peyton Manning, who missed all of last season after recovering from multiple neck surgeries, but more than that, it was his performance on the field that had all of the national sports media scribes writing away the morning after.
That is because Manning, in his first game with the Denver Broncos after spending his entire pro career with the Indianapolis Colts, led his team to 11 points in the fourth quarter to take a 6-point lead that would not be relinquished. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers had their chance with the ball on their own 20-yard line, 3 minutes on the clock, and two timeouts, but it was not to be.
In a sight that Manning once beheld from the opposite point of view, Roethlisberger was picked by cornerback Tracy Porter, who returned the ball 43 yards for a game-sealing touchdown and a 12-point, 31-19 lead. Porter once did the same to Manning on a much larger stage, sealing the New Orleans Saints’ first Super Bowl ever in the 2009 season when he picked Manning late in the game in a similar situation.
It was an interesting game in that the Steelers did their best to keep Manning on the sidelines by commanding the time of possession on offense with short passes mixed in with runs. Yet even with this strategy, Pittsburgh had their struggles, and were it not for Roethlisberger repeatedly excelling on third and long situations, the game may not have even been close.
Indeed, Roethlisberger was exceptional overall on third down for the night. After throwing his second touchdown pass at the beginning of the fourth quarter, he was 11 for 13, throwing for 132 yards and two touchdowns on third down. The first touchdown was a 4 yarder to tight end Heath Miller. He also converted third downs of 9, 11, 13, 12, 18, and 7 yards through the air.
It was simply not enough, however, as the Steelers struggled to run the ball. Isaac Redman, who started in place of Rashard Mendenhall despite having a dinged ankle, managed only 20 yards on 11 carries after some poor blocking, although his backup, Jonathan Dwyer, collected 43 yards on 9 carries.
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