Game Defining Turnover Followed by Game Defining Play from Manning


Coming in this was a game where you didn’t know what to expect. With the Steelers beaten down by injuries, a major question mark was how much they had left in the tank and how effective Ben Roethlisberger would be. For the Broncos the biggest question was Peyton Manning.

Even with the Broncos not being an elite team like other No. 1 seeds in the past, if the Steelers would have folded and been blown out most would have accepted the loss due to the expectations coming in with the Steelers injuries.

How this one played out, though, probably hurts a lot more as it ended up being a 50-50 winnable game for the Steelers.

The Steelers defensively got off to the type of start they needed. Even with the Broncos getting short fields and jumping out to an early 6-0 lead, Pittsburgh stopped the run and put the onus on Peyton Manning needing to make plays.

Dropped balls, six in the first half, and Manning’s inability to be a threat to throw deep saw the Broncos never find a rhythm until the fourth quarter.

Despite the Steelers getting three plays of over 35 yards and four plays over 20 yards in the first half, the Steelers couldn’t turn their big plays into TD’s. As this game continued to progress it was going to be one of those games that came down to which team avoided the costly turnover.

The Steelers would be the team with the costly turnover on a Fitzgerald Toussaint fumble at the Broncos 31 yard line on first down with the Steelers driving.

While the Broncos would put together a backbreaking TD drive that took up over seven minutes, the backbreaking play of the game was a Peyton Manning 31 yard pass to Bennie Fowler down the middle of the field on 3rd and 12. The Broncos were previously 1-11 on third down before that conversion.

The Steelers defended Manning perfectly for much of the day in taking away the middle of the field and making him try to make deep throws down the sideline to beat them. But on this one Manning stepped up in the pocket and made his best throw of the day.

If the Broncos don’t make that third down conservation with that type of big play, it’s difficult to see this one ending like it did.

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The Broncos went 3-15 on third down, the Steelers were even worse going 2-12 (16.7%). The Steelers woes on third down got overlooked last week in their win over Cincinnati. Pittsburgh went 4-of-25 (16.0%) on third down this postseason.


The Steelers rushed for seven yards on six carries in the second half. Fitzgerald Toussaint rushed for seven yards on four carries in the second half. The Steelers leading rusher in the game was Martavis Bryant with 40 rushing yards.


Martavis Bryant had a monster game with 9 catches for 154 yards and 194 all-purpose yards. He has 19 receptions in three career post-season games.