"We didn't have very many plays in the first half," said Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. "Anytime that happens you don't have time to get into a rhythm. We couldn't convert third downs and when you don't convert some of those third downs, you don't get into the game. I have to take my hat off to the Steelers. They came ready to play and played at a high level."
Both teams had a difficult time executing offensively, leaving most of the competition between the Steelers first ranked defense and the Broncos fourth ranked defense.
"I felt our defense and special teams came out and played exceptional throughout the entire game,"explained Shanahan in reflection on the game. "The Steelers did a great job physically controlling the line of scrimmage. We couldn't get much going throughout the game. I don't think I have been in a game like that for a very long time."
The Broncos' defense was able to step up and secure the Broncos chance to win, but Jake Plummer's presence was definitely missed on offense. Plummer was withheld from the game due to discomfort in his right shoulder, but is expected to return next weekend against Minnesota. Although the Broncos struggled offensively without Plummer, Steve Beuerlein showed his veteran style by making important plays at critical times in the second half.
"I have the tendency to look real ugly out there,"s aid Beuerlein. "But, the team believed in me and the coaches believed in me. The defense played their hearts out all day long and they deserve all the credit in the world. We were able to pull together at the end and win."
Beuerlein guided the Broncos to ten successful points in the fourth quarter.
Plummer wasn't the only Bronco missed Sunday against the Steelers. Ian Gold left the game in the first half after tearing his ACL while covering on a punt return.
The game wasn't exactly galvanizing, but the real excitement came at the end when the Broncos found themselves tied with less than three minutes remaining.
"It was time for us to pull together and make it count," said Beuerlein.
And they did. The Broncos came together with a final drive and emerged victorious as Jason Elam connected on a 47-yard field goal to win the game.