T. Bell takes a seat – still suffering from turf toe on both feet – M. Bell gets the go today…
Steelers win the toss and in front of the Steel City faithful promptly break out with a three and out to end their initial drive – sweet sack by Elvis Dumervil on third and six – dropped Roethlisberger for seven.
Punt to Williams – fair catch on the Bronco 37-yard line.
Broncos coming in with a bang – Plummer deep toss to Walker on the left side – good for 38-yards. Steelers tighten up against the run and after squeezing it down to the sixteen – J.P. connects with Rod Smith (remember him) on a beautiful pass in the end zone - break out with an early 7-0 lead.
So much for Pitt controlling the turnovers – Santonio Holmes fumbles the kickoff and Darrent Williams bags it at the 10-yard line – Broncos ball.
Nice protection for Plummer – nobody's open toss to the sidelines. More time for Plummer – alley-oop to Walker – bobbles the catch – so they bring it back again – Plummer to Walker in the right corner and the Broncos have nailed two touchdowns in 21 seconds.
Bill Cowher's jaw looks like it's ready to crack….
Time for catch-up Roethlisberger brings them out – nice completion to Parker for a first. Steelers running game adequate at best but pass protection looks strong – 2nd and four and the Broncos stuff it two-yards shy.
Third and two – great protection - Big Ben can't connect – Cowher gambles on fourth and it bites him - Cedric Wilson pulls it in from Big Ben but fumbles and the Broncos escape a bullet. Plummer takes over on the Denver six-yard line.
Roethlisberger's attacking the Denver backfield with a fair amount of success. If they could only hold onto the ball they could make a game out of it – unfortunately Ben still looks gun shy.
M. Bell up the gut for a few – out to the seven – Scramble, slide and Jake grabs a first at the twenty. Roll out - Plummer to Brandon Marshall good for close to 50 but they're bringing it back on a ticky-tack Stephan Alexander hold. Zebras are playing it tight early.
Back to the 10 and a first and twenty - another Plummer completion picks up nine – Bell rolls for a few – Plummer leveled by Troy P. from the blindside – INCOMPLETE – Drive results in an Ernster punt – fumbled again – Steelers save face and recover trailing 14-0 in the first quarter.
Willie Parker takes it for four and Pitt moves it to the 38-yard line. Ben to Heath Miller is good for a first. Steelers looking at a soft zone go big, Champ Bailey breaks it up.
Breaking out the shotgun for Roethlisberger – Steelers cross midfield and move it down to the Broncos fifteen – BR scrambles for ala' Fran Tarkington and hits Willie Parker in the end zone - trims Denver's lead 14-7. Thirty-yard scramble for a fifteen-yard touchdown – but it worked.
(Commercial break – time to check out the beer-pong game)
Ian Gold watches from the sidelines after pulling up lame with a hamstring
Brian Clark nails a brilliant 52-yard kick return but the field gets littered with yellow and it's brought back to the twenty on a hold.
Pass tipped – the entire bar hold's their collective breath – falls incomplete. Plummer on the bomb to Walker – just off his fingers – Ernster get more TV time – 45-yard kick rolls dead with just over eleven minutes remaining
Just dawned on me – FREE schwag at the front table - cool promo…
Parker breaks it to the left – crosses midfield and it's a first from the 46. Davenport up the middle – Broncos are having trouble stopping the run – Nick Ferguson gets nailed by Hines Ward - (injury timeout while he recalls how to walk).
More shotgun – Broncos blitz falls short and Ward picks up another first at the eighteen. Ben scrambles (no pressure seems to be the call for the day) – pass sails through the end zone incomplete. Denver comes right back with the blitz – better results the second time – Bailey picks off Roethlisberger's toss to Ward and the Broncos come home with their third turnover of the first half.
Plummer from the eight – Bell up the middle for two – Jake comes close to returning the favor – near INT by Ike Taylor. Swing pass to Bell (safe move when you're rattled) good for a few and Enrster is forced to boot it from his end zone. (Ferguson suffered a slight concussion on the Ward hit but is expected to return).
Pitt takes it on their own 41. Pass to Miller for a few – Parker nails the first – crossing midfield to the Broncos 45. Ben to Ward is good for twelve and another first. TV guru's feel the need to inform us that BR's calling the plays from the line (thank God for the info – never would have guessed) – Darrent Williams (last week's scape goat) saves the day and Jeff Reid trots out for a 45-yar field goal attempt – jogs out for nothing – kick sails wide – Plummer and Company take over on the thirty-one.
(Two-minute warning and I can either check out the female scenery or watch Burt Reynolds and the dudes at the roundtable - let's go with the scenery) Plummer on the long ball to Smith – bobbles it when he hits the ground and it's back to special teams and Paul Ernster. Roethlisberger's time management moves the ball easily – another soft zone for the Broncos backfield and Denver back peddles. Shotgun to the end zone – INCOMPLETE - Bailey gets a near pick – 2nd and ten from the 33. Toss to Davenport is cut short by an Al Wilson body slam. Twenty-eight seconds to go – 3rd and 10 – no pressure Ben scrambles but comes up short of a first - 46-yard field goal splits the uprights ad the first half closes out with the Broncos on top 14-10.
I could get used to this – Food, Grub, Girls and free stuff…you gotta check it out - Bears fan in the corner plotting a Rex Grossman beatdown…)
3rd QUARTER –
Talking heads point out the Broncos pulled down a whopping 17-yards rushing the first half.
Bryan Clark returns it near the thirty - Bell for a few - Shanahan dusts off the playbook with a Javon Walker end around – good for 72-yards and the score – so much for the talking heads – Broncos are pushing it over one hundred on the ground so far and pulling out a 21-10 lead third quarter lead.
Here come the Steelers – Quick first down moves it to the 36 where Ben connects with Ward on the sideline for six. Parker around the left side - good for 12 and another first down. Broncos "D" is giving up far to much real estate.
Pass to Parker – leveled by Wilson – the two exchange pleasantries about each others Mother in true sportsmanlike (face-to-face) fashion.
Broncos FINALLY get a sack as Kenard Lang sails in from the right to trap BR – moves the Steelers out of field goal range – Roethlisberger gambles going deep and Bailey tags his second INT of the game.
(Time for more tacos…)
Plummer out of his own end zone - lots of dancing but not a lot of progress.
Jake moves it out to the eighteen – pass to Smith just off his fingers brings up third an fifteen. Back to Walker – pass is deflected by Taylor (Zebras missed an easy interference call – but it's not surprising) – Ernster's struggling with his kicks – Steelers take over on the 46-yard line.
(Pizza has now become an option at the back bar )
Here come the Steelers – here comes more of the same – nice yardage on both the pass and run.
Ben moves the chains down to the Broncos thirty. Parker up the middle – ball is loose – Steelers retain possession. Near INT – flag on Foxworth for unnecessary roughness – automatic first down at the thirteen. Ben hit Tuben at the six – up the middle and another flag on the play. Defenive holding on Gerard Warren - Steelers face first and goal from the three – Parker off tackle and in for the score. Four different Broncos forget how to tackle and Pittsburgh cuts the lead to four – 21-17.
Am I the only one questioning the Broncos soft "D" and the lack of any adjustments?
Kick nearly fumbled by Clark, returns it to the eleven - definite loss of momentum on the Broncos side. Plummer takes over as the Steelers faithful breaks out with the terrible towels.
Plummer to Bell - good enough for 24-yards and a first. More Bell – little gain. Back to Smith along the left sideline – good for a first. Bell off tackle moves it into Pittsburgh territory.
Toss to Walker for another first as the clock winds down – Plummer goes for Smith along the sideline – pass is picked and Shanny pull out the red flag to challenge the call. No doubt he had both feet in – it's a question of possession as he went out.
Video revue give ample time to burn one on the patio – remember kids smoking is bad for your health and will give you lousy breath – which I must now wash down with Coors light.
Broncos dodge one and retain possession after the review -
Moose is getting hammered at Beer-pong – literally
Ernster sails the kick inside the ten and Roethlisberger prepares for battle. Near INT by Demetrius Veal as Ben passes from the end zone – Third and ten and the Broncos pull out a safety – first pressure all day on Roethlisberger (at least he had the sense to hold onto it) – flag on the play – roughness on Darrent Williams – confusion calls for a commercial break as the zebras try to get it right.
Change of call – roughing on the Steelers for hitting Foxworth – tack on fifteen more for Denver. Back to back runs move it inside the ten and it's first and goal.
Bell up the middle moves it to the five. Steelers rush Plummer – loss of five (at least it wasn't a fumble) – Third down toss to Walker in the end zone increases the Broncos lead 28-17 – That two TD's to Walker and one to Smith – nice breakout for the offense. (Camera zooms in as Cowher clearly pulls out with the "animal excrement" line… classic).
Steelers take over on the twenty – three missed tackles on Ward and the play goes for 63-yards – marks the longest play Denver's given up this year – defensive revenge – BR sacked for the second time (Lang). Roethlisberger to Parker breaks FIVE tackles before he's brought down at the 14. Ben scrambles around the left end short of the first – Steelers are forced into a field goal and the Broncos hold a 28-20 lead with just over eight minutes remaining. (more than enough time for Big Ben to dissect a soft zone – I've lost track of all the missed tackles - but it's startling to look comical).
Plummer takes over on the twenty – Play action deep to Walker is good for 60+ - quiets the cold Steelers crowd. Back-to-back Bell runs move for only four – third and six from the fourteen. False start moves it back another five and it's third and 11 at the 12.
Toss to Bell and Cooper Carlisle helps carry him about an inch short of the first. Fourth and inches and another movement penalty – this one on Foster – forces Elam to nail it from the twenty – Broncos extend it 31-20.
Steelers return to to the twenty-seven - Patrick Chuckwura's injured on the kick – walks to the sideline with help. Ben picks up nine hitting Holmes – toss to Davenport picks up another first and another Bronco goes down on the play - Sam Brandon – appears to be a knee. Replay show he was kicked in the leg accidentally by his own teammate - D. Veal. Steelers - first and ten from the 40 – another first on a pass to Davenport - Roethlisberger is looking at over 400-yards through the air – so much for what was once the leagues top defense. Another toss to Davenport gets a first at the eleven yard line and we're looking at the two minute warning.
(Nice rubber floor commercial for Bud light – especially nice touch with the stunt dog) Steelers have three time outs remaining – Pass to Ward – dives into the end zone but looses the ball in the air (after a mega-shot by John Lynch) and Broncos recover to kill the drive.
Replays show the ball clearly in the air prior to crossing the plane – zebra's rule it a fumble - credit Lynch, who gets his bell rung on the play. Denver's had several players go down with injuries, Williams, Brandon, Ferguson and now Lynch - to name a few.
Plummer and Co. take over and look to kill as much time as possible. Back to back with the run and Pittsburgh is forced to burn a timeout on third and eight. Another run up the middle and the Steelers use their final time out. Fourth down and Ernster punts it from the goal line – Steelers take over on the 38 with a buck-twenty left. Dump pass to Parker burns more off the clock – Ben to Wilson goes for a first at midfield – Longball to Wilson comes up incomplete – 2nd and ten with 28 seconds – another INCOMPLETE and Roethisberger picks himself off the turf.
Another miscue to Wilson down the left side brings up a last gasp for Pitt – Picked off by Curome Cox and it's game – set – match for the Denver Broncos – thanks in part to six Steeler turnovers.
Broncos improve to 6-2 while the defending Super Bowl Champions fall to 2-6 – who would have guessed.
Thanks to everyone here at Jackson's Hole for rocking this one out today - Broncos Update will be back here next Sunday for the Raiders slugfest with another LIVE blog and a ton of free gifts for all you Broncos freaks out there.
Tear it Up.....Schon
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past ten years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio stations around the country.
Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net
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