Denver Broncos Hot Topics - Monday, Nov. 6

On offense, Denver Broncos wide receiver Javon Walker had a huge day against the Pittsburgh Steelers while the defense ended the day with seven starters on the bench due to injuries. Read all the latest news in today's edition of "Hot Topics."

Perhaps if the Denver Broncos had receiver Javon Walker last season against Pittsburgh, the AFC Championship Game would have turned out differently.

Walker, who was acquired in a draft-day trade with Green Bay this past offseason, carried Denver's offense in a 31-20 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Broncos had 336 yards and Walker had 206.

"I know the plays I can make," Walker said. "It's all I want, just to have the opportunity."

Walker started the game with a 38-yard catch, which was a sign of things to come. He caught two touchdown passes, both on third down and goal at the Steelers' 10-yard line on jump balls.

The Steelers played a lot of man defense against Walker, and he repeatedly beat cornerbacks on jump balls. Most of his damage came against Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor. The Broncos were shocked that Pittsburgh didn't make an adjustment.

"I don't know what they were doing," Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said. "Obviously, this guy's a good player, but man. I just can't believe they couldn't contain him. I was a little surprised."

Denver needed to pass more against the Steelers because their running game wasn't going to have a big day. The Broncos were without starting tailback Tatum Bell, who has two injured big toes. Fullback Kyle Johnson, who is recovering from an ankle injury, was also out.

Rookie Mike Bell, who had 135 yards rushing in the second half against Indianapolis last week, filled in and had 28 yards on 17 carries.

"They're a good run defense, but the chances I had, I've got to make a better effort getting those tough yards," Mike Bell said. "There's going to be games like this. I'm going to continue to work hard and get better."

Walker supplied most of Denver's rushing offense as well. He had a 72-yard touchdown run on a reverse. The play came at a big time for Denver, who led 14-0 less than four minutes into the game but allowed 10 unanswered points before halftime. Walker's run came on Denver's first possession of the second half.

Walker cut inside to make cornerback Deshea Townsend miss, then made another move to get past Taylor. Walker's run was the longest for a Bronco since 2000.

"That's one of the nicest runs I've ever seen," quarterback Jake Plummer said.

The Broncos needed all of Walker's contributions. The defense allowed 499 yards, but Pittsburgh had six turnovers. Denver's defense had a lot of injuries, and finished the fourth quarter with four starters and seven backups in the game.

The Broncos lost 34-17 in last season's AFC Championship Game in a home game against Pittsburgh. Getting a win on Sunday against the Steelers was much needed after a loss to Indianapolis, but it can't replace the sting of the playoff loss last season.

"It's always nice to beat a good football team and a great organization, that's for sure," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "To say satisfaction from winning today, and they won the Super Bowl, I don't think you can even compare that."

PLAYER NOTES

--S Sam Brandon hurt his knee and might be out for the season. The initial diagnosis is Brandon tore the ACL in his right knee. Brandon was in the game for Nick Ferguson, who was also injured.

--S Nick Ferguson suffered a concussion in the second quarter of Sunday's game. He took a blindside hit from Steelers WR Hines Ward on a running play. Ferguson tried to come back in Denver's next drive but was taken out of the game.

--RB Tatum Bell, who has two injured big toes, was inactive against the Steelers. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he didn't want Bell playing because he wouldn't be at full speed. Bell said he thinks he will return next week.

--DE Ebenezer Ekuban left the game in the first half with an injured groin. Elvis Dumervil replaced him most of the game. Ekuban's status is uncertain for next week's game against Oakland.

--LB Ian Gold missed most of Sunday's game when he injured his hamstring. Gold could miss some time. Louis Green filled in for Gold against Pittsburgh.



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