Broncos vs. Steelers Report Card

Check out how the Denver Broncos fared on their report card in the 31-28 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.


PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Jay Cutler had two bad mistakes, interceptions where he admits he was fooled by the Steelers defense. But without top receiver Javon Walker, Cutler threw three touchdowns and led the team on a game-winning drive in the final 1:10. Cutler has shown the ability to bounce back from mistakes to lead Denver to late victories. He made some fantastic plays on third-down conversions, which were key to the win.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- The Broncos couldn't move the ball much against the Steelers, but that wasn't unexpected. Pittsburgh has a good front seven and the Broncos ran to keep Pittsburgh honest. Travis Henry left the game with bruised ribs after the third quarter, which didn't help.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- There were some low points, especially on the many third downs Pittsburgh converted. Ben Roethlisberger had 290 yards and four touchdowns, but what mattered most to the Broncos were three first-half plays. Roethlisberger threw two interceptions and had a fumble on a sack returned for a touchdown. That was the difference in the game.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Denver made huge strides in this area. Practically incapable of stopping the run the first five weeks, the Broncos swarmed Willie Parker. He had a few good runs but didn't break 100 for the game. The Broncos were more sound in their assignments than they had been all season in assistant head coach/defense Jim Bates' new scheme. They hope Sunday's performance was a sign they've turned the corner.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Denver's special teams contributed to the win. They didn't allow any long returns and hit hard on coverage. Todd Sauerbrun had a 64-yard punt in the fourth quarter. And Jason Elam nailed a game-winning 49-yard field goal as time expired, the third time he has won a game for the Broncos on the final play this year.

COACHING: A -- Denver had plenty of reasons to pack it in after losing three in a row, including a 38-point loss to San Diego. The Broncos had many key injuries and had a difficult matchup against a good Steelers team. But Mike Shanahan kept the team confident, fixed some problems, and had a good game plan, especially compared to Pittsburgh's strange pass-happy approach against the 32nd-ranked run defense in the league. At 3-3, the Broncos' outlook for the rest of the season doesn't seem as dire.

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