Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Going into their wild-card matchup against the Denver Broncos, the Pittsburgh Steelers boasted the top-ranked pass defense in the league and no quarterback had thrown for 300 yards against them all season.
With Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow struggling to complete passes in recent weeks, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the strong and playoff-experienced Steelers defense would have their way with Tebow and his teammates.
However, such was not the case. With safety Ryan Clark inactive with a sickle-cell blood trait that could have threatened his life were he to take the field, the Steelers were already down one of the top players in the secondary.
Then nose tackle Casey Hampton went down with a knee injury and defensive end Brett Keisel left the game with a groin injury, and the Steelers began to crumble.
Though Tebow completed less than 50 percent of his passes on Sunday, he made those completions count. In 10 passes, he gained 316 yards and threw two touchdowns and he was able to do something he's never done before in the NFL—beat a defense deep, throw after throw.
Denver also rushed for 131 yards, well above the 99.8 the Steelers were averaging coming into the game, and they gave up a score on the ground to Tebow in the second quarter.
Though the Steelers defense had a few convincing goal-line stands, holding Denver to three field goals when they could have scored touchdowns, it's still nothing for the perennial defensive powerhouses to be proud of.
It was a surprising showing by the Broncos offense and a disappointing outing for the Steelers defense. Despite all of the injuries, they still get a poor grade this week.
Final Grade: D