Steelers vs. Broncos: Instant Grades and Analysis
While both offenses struggled early it was the Pittsburgh offense that began to heat up first.
Steeler quarterback Ben Rothelisberger finished the game 22 of 40 for 245 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
However the story of the night was Broncos' quarterback Peyton Manning. Returning from a neck injury that sidelined him for the 2011 season, Manning showed that he is still a force to be reckoned with. He finished the game 19 of 26 for 253 yards and two touchdowns.
The Broncos came back from a 13-7 deficit and beat the Steelers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium. Here are the final game grades for the Broncos in their opening week win.
Steelers 19 Broncos 31 Final
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OVERALL GAME GRADE -- A+ Well that is why John Elway signed Peyton Manning. He wasn't flawless but it was pretty close. Manning finishes the game 19/26 for 253 yards and two touchdowns. And that really doesn't tell the entire story. He ran the hurry up offense and kept the Steeler defense completely off balance. This was Michael Jordan hitting the left handed layup against the Lakers. This was Tiger Woods winning the US Open by 15 strokes. Manning was absolutely brilliant tonight.
Q4 -- Manning's fade pass to Jacob Tamme when the Steelers showed bump coverage was a so perfect. He dropped it in a basket.
Manning's hurry up offense is giving this Steeler defense all sorts of problems. He is making the right reads and very accurate throws. His arms strength does NOT seem to be a problem. Manning hits Jacob Tamme for his second passing touchdown of the night so far. Manning has to scramble a little before hitting McGahee on the two point conversion. Manning is red hot right now.
Q3 -- Peyton ended the first half on a roll. Now we will see if he can keep the offense moving. Looks like he can. Manning hits Demaryius Thomas on a quick screen and Thomas goes 71 yards for a touchdown.
Q2 -- Manning comes out on the Bronco's fourth drive of the night and he looks like he's getting impatient. He wants to move. He hits six of seven passes and the Denver offense goes 80 yards in twelve plays. Knowshon Moreno runs in the touchdown from six yards out. This is Manning looking in top form.
Q1 -- Manning looked sharp on the first drive. He had a pass dropped by Joel Dreessen and another dropped by Demaryius Thomas. Manning has looked precise and capable early on. He went to a hurry up offense and caught the Steelers defense napping on a third down play. His pass to Demaryius Thomas was incomplete but the Steelers may have gotten away with too many players on the field.
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OVERALL GAME GRADE -- A- It took the Bronco offense about a quarter and half to get going but once they did wow were they impressive. The offensive line kept Manning pretty clean all night. The running backs ran hard and while they were not always terribly effective they did enough to keep the defense guessing. The wide receivers had a very good night although there were probably three catches they they failed to make. Eric Decker has to pull in that pass in the end zone. Peyton Manning was somehow still Peyton Manning. It was nice to have him on the good side instead of seeing him do that TO us.
Q4 -- Manning is running the no huddle offense to near perfection. Jacob Tamme, Eric Decker, and Demaryius Thomas are making catches and good runs after. The offensive line is giving Manning a great amount of time. Mixing the run and pass very effectively The Bronco offense drives right down the field and Manning connects with tight end Jacob Tamme for the touchdown.
Q3 -- Following a field goal the Denver offense will take over for their first possession of the second half at their own 20 yard line. After a short pass to Eric Decker, Manning hits Demaryius Thomas on a quick screen and Thomas takes it 71 yards for a Denver touchdown! Well that was fast.
Q2 -- Following a Pittsburgh field goal the Denver offense will get its fourth possession of the night. Peyton Manning has the hurry up offense clicking. They move eighty yards and roll right down the field.Touchdown Knowshon Moreno! Knowshon slips through for a six yard touchdown run and that 80 yard drive was without a huddle and was beautiful to watch.
Q1 -- Broncos will receive the opening kickoff. Broncos are moving early. A drop by tight end Joel Dreessen hurts but Manning hit Stokely for the first down on 3rd and 7. The offensive line is giving Peyton a ton of time. Pittsburgh's defensive line is not getting near him. After a drop by WR Demaryius Thomas on second down Manning is sacked on third down. The Broncos will punt on their first drive.
The Broncos offense will start their second drive with very good field position at their own 38 yard line. On a third and one running back Willis McGahee gets the ball stripped and the fumble is recovered by the Steelers. They take over at the Denver 47 yard line.
A great Pittsburgh punt will have the Bronco offense pinned inside their own one yard line to start their third drive. No room for errors here. After two short runs by McGahee, Manning hits Brandon Stokely for 17 yards and a first down. A big sack puts Denver in poor down and distance and the Broncos will punt for the second time tonight.
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OVERALL GAME GRADE -- C+ Well it was not always pretty. The Broncos defense played very well early and then finished the job late. It was just all of that time in between that was concerning. Pittsburgh converted 11 of 19 third downs on the night. The Steelers finished the game with 318 total yards. Yet, when the Bronco defense had to make a stop, they managed to do it. After struggling for most of the second and third quarters they finished the game by stopping the Steeler offense three times in a row.
Q4 -- It's fairly simple. The defense needs a stop and they will most likely win this game. Tracy Porter has been picked on all night and he picks off Roethlisberger on a quick out and takes it to the house. Touchdown. That might do it.
Following the Bronco touchdown, the defense finally forces a punt! Tracy Porter again breaks up some passes. He is being tested and while he has given up some completions he has also stopped some big plays.
Denver begins the 4th quarter backed up on their own three yard line. A quick slant to Mike Wallace gives the Steelers the touchdown. The two point conversion fails and the Steelers take the lead again 19-14.
Q3 -- Following the two play touchdown drive by the Bronco offense, the defense will again take the field without much of a breather. Different series but same basic premise. The Denver defense just can't get off the field. Rahim Moore is called for a personal foul that gives up a first down. Wesley Woodyard gives up a long reception to Pittsburgh tight end Heath Miller. The defense cannot get a stop when they need one. The third quarter ends with the Steelers knocking at the Denver end zone. Denver time of possession in the third quarter :36 seconds.
Q2 -- After a big punt return the Bronco defense is again put in a difficult situation. Pittsburgh will start at the Denver 37 yard line. The defense is bending. Pittsburgh's offense has driven inside the Denver 10 yard line. Champ Bailey breaks up a pass on first down. Champ is amazing. The defense holds. Very good plays on second and third down by Tracy Porter and the defense holds Pittsburgh to a field goal.
The defense is beginning to show some gaps and Roethlisberger is finding them. The Pittsburgh offense is at the Denver 44 yard line. Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller have been controlled by this Pittsburgh offensive line. Another big pass to the Bronco four yard line. The defensive backs are being asked to defend for far too long. Easy touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to tight end Heath Miller. Linebacker Joe Mays bit early and slipped, Miller slanted past him for an easy catch.
Q1 -- The defense holds the Steelers to a three and out on the first possession as the Pittsburgh offense comes up about a half yard short on third down.
After a fumble by Willis McGahee the Steelers take over at the Denver 47 yard line. The defense needs to come up big here. Huge stop by the Denver D! Rookie Derek Wolfe gets a third down sack to force a punt after the fumble. The Denver run defense has been phenomenal so far.
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OVERALL GAME GRADE -- B+ The special teams had a pretty quiet night. Not too much to grade here. They did give up one big return on a punt but other than that the kick coverage was good. Britton Colquitt had a quietly good night. Matt Prater's kickoffs were booming and he did hit his lone field goal attempt.
Q4 -- Matt Prater hits his first field goal of 2012 connecting from 26 yards with 3:00 remaining in the game.
Jim Leonhard returns another punt for 10 yards. He looks solid back there and could be dangerous if given some space.
Q3 -- An extra point and some touchbacks. Nothing to see here, folks.
Q2 -- Kickoff after the touchdown by Prater goes seven yards deep and the Steeler returner brings it out. David Bruton makes the tackle at the Pittsburgh 20. That was good kick coverage.
Q1 -- Omar Bolden will receive the opening kickoff. Ball is kicked out of the end zone and comes out to the 20. Good punt by Britton Colquitt. He booms one to the 10 yard line and punt coverage team does its job and keeps the return very short. The Steelers will start from their own 10.
Jim Leonhard takes the Steelers' first punt of the game from the Denver 28 yard line out for about a ten yard return. Solid return by Leonhard.
Solid punt by Colquitt as he hits it for 45 yards but a 23 yard return by Antonio Brown has the Steelers starting at the Denver 37 yard line. Poor coverage by the punt team.
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OVERALL GAME GRADE -- B The coaching staff gets mixed reviews but the win is all that matters. I thought the coaching staff missed two opportunities to challenge plays through instant replay but failed to do so. The offense took a quarter or so to get going but once it did it was fun to watch. The defense struggled to get stops on third downs. They didn't seem to disguise their coverages very well and their blitzes were picked up by the Steeler offensive line most of the time. However, they finished the game strong and sealed the victory.
Q4 -- The defense finally tightened up and finished the job. The offense is playing very well. The no huddle has the Steelers reeling.
Q3 -- The offense is looking good. The screen pass from Manning to Thomas was a brilliant call. But the defense is really struggling. Jack Del Rio has not called a great game defensively. The defense is allowing Roethlisberger all the time he wants and they cannot get a stop on third downs. The goal of the Pittsburgh offense is to eat away the clock and keep the ball out of Peyton Manning's hands and they are doing it.
Q2 -- The offense is warming up with the no huddle offense keeping the Steeler defense off balance. However the defense is dropping eight defenders into coverage on long distance downs and Roethlisberger is buying extra time and finding open receivers. You can't blame the defensive backs when they are having to cover for eight and nine seconds.
Q1 -- Not a whole lot to grade on. Denver seems well prepared but have had some problems with execution. The coaching staff may have been able to get a first down had they challenged a too many men on the field play by the Steeler defense. The play was not challenged.