Steelers Season Ends In 29-23 Overtime Loss To Broncos In AFC Wild Card Game – Game Recap

The Pittsburgh Steelers saw their 2011 season come to an abrupt end Sunday in Denver with 29-23 overtime loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Wild Card game.

Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow hit wide receiver Demaryius Thomas on the first play in overtime for a game-winning 80-yard touchdown pass to give the Broncos the win. Tebow had 316 passing yards and two touchdowns in the game and the Broncos now advance to play the New England Patriots in a divisional playoff game Saturday night in Foxboro.

The Broncos finished with 447 total yards against the Steelers No. 1 defense that allowed an average of 272 yards per game in the regular season. Tebow finished 10 of 21 passing in the win and rushed for 50 more yards with a touchdown on 10 carries.

The Steelers jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the game following field goals of 45 and 38 yards by kicker Shaun Suisham. The Broncos answered with 20 straight points that included a 30 yard touchdown reception by Eddie Royal, an 8 yard run by Tebow and two Matt Prater field goals of 20 and 28 yards.

The Steelers lost defensive end Brett Keisel and nose tackle Casey Hampton early in the game due to a groin and knee injury respectively. Neither returned to the game and rookie Cameron Heyward played the rest of the game at right defensive end with Steve McLendon taking over at nose tackle.

The Steelers came out of the halftime down 20-6 but crawled back within a touchdown following a 11 play 88 yard scoring drive on their first possession of the second half as Mike Wallace scored from 1 yard out on an end around following a 32 yard run by running back Isaac Redman. Redman was making just his second career start due to the season ending knee injury suffered by Rashard Mendenhall last week in Cleveland. Redman finished with 121 yards on 17 carries.

Both teams traded fourth quarter field goals and the Broncos were driving again around mid field when running back Willis McGahee fumbled on a strip by Steelers safety Ryan Mundy. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley recovered the fumble and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger led the team on a 7 play, 56 yard drive that culminated with 31 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery that tied the game at 23 with 3:48 left in regulation.

On the first play of overtime Tebow hit Thomas in stride on the left side and inside Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor. Thomas, who finished with four catches for 204 yards, outran a couple of Steelers defenders for the game-winning score.

The loss means the Steelers finish the 2011 season at 12-5 and they will now have the 24th pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

I will have an extended breakdown and recap of the game later tonight after I go back through the game. You can listen to the Mike Tomlin post game press conference here.

  • I wrote my recap in complete shock. I can’t believe they lost and still can’t, I guess injuries eventually catch up to you. Redman played very well tonight but the secondary was terrible. Ryan Clark was definitely missed.

  • Dgh57

    Injuries hurt this team in this game!

    No pass rush allowed receivers more time to get open!!

    Bruce Arians MUST GO!!!!!!

  • Ssstp

    Honestly….it seemed that LeBeau was outcoached…we didnt protect against the long passes which is our staple…not sure if it was people out of position or just bad play calling by LeBeau

    Stat: Tebow 10 completions for 316 yards…31.6 yards a completions…AWFUL!!!!

  • John

    yes, clark was missed much more than mendy… interesting to see if there is a competition for RB next year….

  • SHOOT07

    Why not a combo of Mendy/Redman or Redman/Mendy… seems to work for a lot of other teams — New Orleans, Houston, etc.

  • Guest

    I generally don’t like Arians’ play calling either, but I fail to see how the OC is responsible for the defensive meltdown in the secondary.

  • Jason Brown

    Well, Dave & Dave, I guess that this pretty much ends the endless crowing about Taylor being jilted for the probowl, huh? He looked like a lost rookie out there.

  • Dornas

    Bruce Arians, I hope not to see you again on Black and Gold.

    Baron Batch had a great training camp, I want to see him as a RB backup.

    We need urgently OG and OT! Draft is coming!

  • Kenneth Wilt

    It doesn’t matter what RBs we have on this team…it just doesn’t. What you saw today IMO were a couple of things.

    First, you saw what happens when you hit the holes and don’t hesitate.

    Second, you saw what happens when you look at RBs as ONLY runners.

    We have no game plan for how to use the RBs if they aren’t actually carrying the rock. NO yesterday had about 12 pass completions to guys out of the backfield. We had 2. 2! The only time we throw the ball to the RB is if it a dump off, we NEVER call it as an intentional play. I honestly don’t even know why you would even bother covering them.

    I think we use our RBs about 4 ways. Run right with LG pulling, Run left with RG pulling, emergency dump off, extra blocker. NO plans for ways to get their RBs into the game. They intentionally throw the ball to them as the main receiver in the patterns.

    Someone needs to sit down with BA and Ben and get them to understand that you don’t have to throw the ball 20 yards in the air to pick up a 3rd and 2.

  • SHOOT07

    Well said, Mendenhall brought up the very same points regarding the running game in a interview about 8 games ago.

  • Disagreeable

    As the fourth quarter of this game was winding down, the Steelers had two timeouts left with a minute to play. They should have gotten in 7-8 plays minimum, but they didn’t. They waited too long to use the first time out…

    If they had just completed 5 short passes (out of a possible 7-8 plays) they would have been in field goal range. Instead, Ben lost yardage twice, and they never got the shot at a field goal. This was very, very poor clock management, which we saw three times this year from Tomlin.

    Keyed against the run, which they effectively stopped, they didn’t give Tebow the respect he deserved through the air. There were no adjustments made at the half… the defense came out with the same sets in the second half, the same pass defense, and they got killed for it.

    Next year I’d like to see both the offensive and defensive coordinators replaced, and I’d like to see Ben, Harrison and some others traded for draft picks. Time to rebuild !!

  • Rfrankli09

    the secondary……what a joke! Ike Taylor was nowhere to be found, problem is this is beginning to be the norm. Not to mention it’s taking a toll on Troy he can’t be everywhere to help out IT and WG.

  • Jason Brown

    Agreed. I am so tired of seeing the same running plays over and over and over ad nauseum. What WAS refreshing was seeing a RB who doesn’t debate half the day before hitting a hole in addition to actually driving through the run instead of falling to the turf.

  • Fu-Schnickens

    Pathetic. That was the most miserable secondary performance, and the inability of linebackers to get to the quarterback wasn’t much better. What makes it worse is that we now have to listen to Tomlin’s coachspeak diatribe that fails to give the deserving fans any insight into how he really feels about his team’s dismal performance.

  • Fu-Schnickens

    Oh, and Dave and Dave, THIS is precisely why the Steeler Nation panicks. Sure, it’s easy to say in retrospect, but this team has shown a penchant for its growing inability to adapt to its weaknesses. Naturally, this makes the fanbase apprehensive of glaring problems as lethal.

  • Dgh57

    The OC had nothing to do with the defensive breakdown! Never said it did. But with the weapons Big Ben has at his disposal you would think they would lite up the scoreboard!! More points scored means a better chance to win games!!

  • Fu-Schnickens

    Because we want someone who will RUN the ball and get the tough yards not someone who will dance, stammer, wait, dance, and then possibly hit the dirt if he sees oncoming tacklers. Personally, I hope that this ends the Mendenhall era. We’ve waited far too long for that flower to bloom.

  • Daveb1952

    Although I STILL say our pass defense was overated going into this game, what Tebow did to it was on the coaching staff. Of course, we were having trouble stopping their running game too, but after their first TD, we should have gone back to our base cover two D defense.

    Looking at the season from the day after it ended, just way too many injuries this year, bone headed coaching decisions, personel decisions, and substandard play to win a championship. Feel free to lay the blame where you will.

  • Daveb1952

    you put 14 point on the board in the first quarter instead of 6, and it’s different game. That’s how.

  • MJones

    Agreed. Coverage in the secondary wasn’t coverage – it was damage control! They were lined up to tackle AFTER the reception, not to prevent it.

    We started out well in the 1st quarter playing man coverage & rushing Tebow, & the scoreboard showed it. After Denver got in a long play or two, we got scared and played soft zone D, and gave Tebow all day to throw for 30 yards per completion.

    It’s the same issue in the secondary that we’ve seen for weeks – didn’t get away with it this time…

  • Eye-In-The-Sky

    I’m probably going to anger steeler nation with this comment, but I put this lost on Ben. And Tomlin for not sitting him for the last 3 games, in which case we would have been in the same playoff situation, only with a healthier QB.

    I probably should qualify this by saying Ben is never even a thought when I personally think about elite QBs. But I do give him credit for 3 SB appearances with 2 wins.

    Fact: Ben is not an accurate passer, particularly when it comes to the long ball. As proof go back and look at the last SB. He missed Wallace on at least 4 TDs.

    Fact: Ben isn’t great a reading defenses, which is why he is so much more successful when he extends the play and get in to that sandlot mode.

    We lost that game because physically he wasn’t able to extend plays.

    The secondary looked bad yesterday, Ike looked bad yesterday. Not because they were overated, but the scheme got beat. They came in planning to take away the run and force Tebow to beat ’em with his arm…and he did. I been saying all year I think Lewis should be in the base D. (notice Thomas nor Royal caught nothing on him). But that still wouldn’t have saved Ike.

  • John

    It’s true, he’s not nearly as good when he can’t move around and buy time. On our last TD he did, but it took everything he had. I wish he could read defenses better from the pocket…just for these situations since he’s always getting hurt.

  • Dgh57

    They can’t put 14 on the board instead of 6 because Arians runs this offense!! Put the OC of either the Saints or Packers and their systems in place of what we have and you’ll get a scoreboard lit up BIG TIME!!!

  • Great game to watch—-Steeler Nation…stay in Pittsburgh and watch the playoffs from your TV’s!