Steelers At Broncos Review
Sunday, January 23rd, 2006
- Page updated at 8:30am
Analyst For WagerOnFootball.com Sportsbook Review
GAME BY GAME SUMMARIES - conference PLAYOFFS
STEELERS AT BRONCOS REVIEW
Score: PITTSBURGH 34 - DENVER 17
- Ben Roethlisberger threw a pair
of touchdown passes and ran for another to lead the
Pittsburgh Steelers over the Denver Broncos, 34-17,
in the AFC Championship Game at Invesco Field.
Roethlisberger completed 21-of-29 passes
for 275 yards without an interception for the Steelers,
who became the first sixth seed to advance to the
Super Bowl in NFL history. Pittsburgh's road to Detroit
wasn't easy. The club needed to win three road games
-- in Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver -- to punch
its first Super Bowl ticket in 10 years.
"A lot of people said that if
we have to throw the ball, we can't win the game,"
said Roethlisberger. "Myself, the line, we took
offense of that. The last couple weeks, we've proven
that's not the case. We have to keep going and make
sure we remain a balanced offense like we have been
Cedrick Wilson had five catches for
92 yards with a touchdown and Hines Ward added 59
yards and a score on five receptions for Pittsburgh,
which won the AFC Championship Game for just the second
time in six tries under head coach Bill Cowher. The
Steelers had dropped their last three championship
game appearances, all at home, and will be seeking
their first Super Bowl win in 26 years.
Jerome Bettis also ran for a touchdown
for Pittsburgh, which won Super Bowl XIV following
the 1979 season for its last world championship. The
club will face the NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks in
the Super Bowl on February 5. The Seahawks defeated
Carolina 34-14 on Sunday.
"I think throughout the course
of these playoffs, I think we're a football team,"
said Cowher. "We have had really great weeks
of work. We're playing our best football at the right
time of the year. It was tough to do what we had to
do to go to the three places and win those games.
They were all challenges in themselves."
Jake Plummer completed 18-of-30 passes
for 223 yards with a score, but he committed four
turnovers that led to 21 points for Pittsburgh. Plummer
was picked off twice and lost a pair of fumbles, as
Denver's offense had trouble successfully moving the
ball against the stout defense of the Steelers.
"Anytime you have four turnovers
it?s hard to win football games," said coach
Mike Shanahan. "This is a team game. You do it
as a team, offense, defense and special teams. I think
we got beat in all areas today."
Ashley Lelie had two catches for 68
yards with a touchdown for Denver, which failed to
advance to its first Super Bowl since winning back-to-back
titles in 1997 and 1998.
After trailing 24-3 at halftime and
going three-and-out on its first offensive possession
of the second half, the Broncos were in need of a
break and got a pair on consecutive plays.
First, on a third-and-short for the
Steelers, Champ Bailey jarred a potential first-down
catch loose from Ward to force a punt. It was just
the third time in 11 tries that the Broncos stopped
the Steelers on third down to that point in the game.
Then, after it appeared that the Steelers
pinned the Broncos' offense inside the five-yard line
for a second consecutive time on the ensuing punt,
video replays showed a touchback and Denver instead
got the ball at the 20.
The Broncos took advantage of the overturned
call and marched 80 yards in just 2:24 to get their
first touchdown of the game. On 2nd-and-1 from the
Pittsburgh 30, Plummer hit Lelie with a pass down
the middle to cut the deficit to 14 points, 24-10,
with 3:36 left in the third quarter.
Pittsburgh refused to let the Broncos'
fortunes shift the momentum of the game and answered
with an eight-play, 48-yard drive that bridged the
third and fourth quarters and took nearly five minutes
off the clock. The series resulted in a 42-yard field
goal by Jeff Reed that pushed the lead to three possessions,
Denver refused to go down silently,
as Charlie Adams returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards
into Steelers' territory.
Plummer, though, committed his third
turnover of the game on the first play from scrimmage
when he was intercepted by Larry Foote.
The mistake didn't lead to points for
the Steelers, but it did allow Pittsburgh to take
precious minutes off the clock.
Denver did get a touchdown on its next
drive when Mike Anderson bulled in from three yards
out to cut the deficit to 27-17 with 7:52 remaining.
The drive was aided by a pass interference call that
brought the ball down to the Pittsburgh nine-yard
line and a number of improv plays by Plummer, who
was constantly under pressure.
The Broncos continued to make it interesting
by holding the Steelers to a punt and taking over
at their own 20 with 6:12 left. However, Denver couldn't
even get one first down and turned it over when Plummer
fumbled on a sack on fourth down.
Pittsburgh converted that miscue into
seven points when Roethlisberger ran in from four
yards out to ice the game with 2:59 remaining.
The score fittingly came on third down
for the Steelers, who converted 10- of-16 third down
tries for the game. Pittsburgh also held possession
for just over 36 minutes, compared to nearly 24 for
Roethlisberger, at age 23, becomes
the second youngest QB to lead his team to a Super
Bowl, trailing only Dan Marino during the 1984 season.
"You know, he really, he's very
composed," said Cowher of his QB. "You can
see it from last year and this year. It's night and
day. We have a young quarterback who didn't play young
Pittsburgh, which has won seven straight
games dating back to the regular season, has captured
both of its AFC titles under Cowher on the road.
The Steelers got the scoring started
on their first possession, as Reed connected on a
47-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead. The 62-yard drive
was highlighted by a pair of third-down conversions
by Roethlisberger. Also, a Willie Parker fumble that
was recovered by Denver was overturned after a video
On Denver's ensuing possession, Pittsburgh's
defense forced the first of two Plummer first-half
turnovers. On the third play, Joey Porter sacked the
Denver quarterback, forcing a fumble that was recovered
by Casey Hampton at the Broncos' 39 with 2:47 remaining
in the opening quarter.
From there, Roethlisberger needed just
five plays to put his club ahead 10-0. On the first
play of the second quarter, the second-year QB hit
wide receiver Wilson with a 12-yard TD pass in the
back right corner of the end zone.
Denver responded by putting together
a 12-play, 55-yard drive that resulted in a 23-yard
Jason Elam field goal to cut the deficit to just seven
That, however, would be as close as
the Broncos could get the rest of the way.
Roethlisberger and company answered
with a 14-play, 80-yard march, capped by a Bettis
three-yard TD run to increase the cushion to 17-3
with 1:55 left in the half. The possession, which
took nearly 7 1/2 minutes off the clock, was highlighted
by three third-down conversions by the Steelers. All
three were passes by Roethlisberger.
Then, Plummer committed his second
mistake of the half on the first play on the Broncos
next possession. He attempted to hit tight end Stephen
Alexander down the right sideline, but Ike Taylor
stepped in front of the intended target and picked
off the pass before going out of bounds at the Broncos'
38 with 1:48 left in the half.
Four plays and 1:41 later, Roethlisberger
hit Ward in the back of the end zone for a 17-yard
score and a 24-3 cushion at the break.
Bettis has a rushing TD in five straight
playoff games and seven of the Steelers' last nine...Denver's
Rod Smith's third catch of the game moved him into
sole possession of first place on the Broncos' all-time
playoff reception list, passing Shannon Sharpe's old
mark of 47...Smith ended with four catches for 61
yards...Anderson ended with 36 yards rushing on nine
carries...Pittsburgh's Brett Keisel had two sacks.
vs Seahawks Review
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