Steeler Defense 7, Denver Broncos 3 (At Halftime)

Tom AuSenior Analyst IINovember 10, 2009

DENVER - NOVEMBER 09: Tyrone Carter #23 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs for a touchdown after making an interception in the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field at Mile High on November 09, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

This halftime score defined the game in what was a defensive duel for at least three quarters. And it also defines why the Steelers have a chance at another Super Bowl win.

On the opening drive of the game, a third down Bronco pass attempt was broken up by corner back William Gay. Actually, he should have had an interception, except that HIS play was broken up by Steelers' safety Troy Polamalu. The Broncos kicked a field goal from the Steelers' 40 that they would not have had if the "interception" had stood up.

On paper, the Broncos continued to dominate the first half, having held the ball for over 16 minutes at the 23 minute mark. But they were unable to score afterward, with all their drives being stopped short, after starting deep in their own territory because of poor punting.

On one of those drives, Tyrone Carter, a "backup" safety replacing Ryan Clark, played as "free" safety, running left to right across the field in order to pick off a Kyle Orton pass and run it back for a touchdown. This led to the halftime score displayed in the title.

On the other hand, Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger had two turnovers in the second half. The first was a 13-yard sack that caused him to fumble the ball, that the Broncos' Robert Ayers ran back for a touchdown, and their last lead, 10-7.

To his credit, Roethlisberger came storming back with a four pass touchdown, giving the Steelers a 14-10 lead, all they needed to win.

But the next Steelers' drive was thwarted by stellar BRONCO's defense. Andre Goodwin intercepted a Roethlisberger pass in the end zone for a touchback.

The fourth quarter was something of an anti-climax. About halfway through the quarter, Polamalu intercepted an Orton pass at the Denver 25, that Roethlisberger converted into a touchdown with seven minutes to go. You could argue that the score was now Steelers' Defense 14, Offense, 7, Broncos 10.

After a "three and out" occasioned by the "Iron Curtain" defense, the final Steelers' drive not only put up another seven points, but ate up five minutes on the clock. With less than a minute and half left in the game, the Broncos weren't able to do anything.

This would not be the first time this that Steelers' defense defined the game. The Steelers won their first game, a defensive gem, 13-10 against the Tennessee Titans (who beat them last year) in overtime.

But star defender, safety Troy Polamalu was injured for several weeks.

In the second game with Polamalu out, and the score tied at 14-14, the Steelers missed a field goal from the Chicago Bears' 43, and the Bears used great field position to get within field goal range for a 17-14 victory.

Polamalu was also missed when the Steelers lost a road game to the Cincinnati Bengals, normally an underdog, won 23-20, a contest which "sets up" a rematch next week in Pittsburgh for the leadership of the AFC North.

But a fumble return and an interception return were the keys in a 27-17 victory over the Vikings  (Steelers' Defense 14, Offense 13, Vikings 17). Without the defense, it would have been 17-14 Vikings.

Steelers' victories against the San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions, and Cleveland Browns, were won in the conventional way, by Roethlisberger's offense. But except for the Chargers, these were much weaker teams than the ones discussed above.