Steelers Drop Season Opener To Broncos 31-19

The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to keep Denver Broncos quarterback  Peyton Manning off the field for long stretches Sunday night, but they failed to stop him when he was on the field in their 31-19 opening week loss.

The Steelers offense was able to possess the ball 35:05 minutes in total, but scoring only two touchdowns on 4 red zone trips will always allow a quarterback like Manning to hang around.

On the night Manning was 19-of-26 passing for 253 yards with 71 of those yards coming on a touchdown pass to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas with 5:41 left in the third quarter. On the play, Manning hit Thomas on a quick 1 yard pass to the short left and the receiver had a huge lane and several blockers out in front to take it the other 70 yards for the score.

That two play drive followed the Steelers 16 play, 64 yard drive on the opening possession of the second half that resulted in just 3 points. The drive ate up 8:55 off the clock, but it was not long enough to ice the veteran Manning.

The Steelers offense was set on running the ball early in an effort to keep the ball away from Manning, but the ground game produced just 75 yards on 26 carries on the night for a dismal 2.9 average. The offensive line also suffered first half injuries to guard Ramon Foster (eye) and tackle Marcus Gilbert (knee), and neither returned to the game.

To make matters worse, the Steelers were flagged 8 times for 52 yards on the night.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was 22-of-40 passing on the night for 245 yards with touchdowns to tight end Heath Miller and wide receiver Mike Wallace of 4 and 3 yards respectively. Roethlisberger, however, was sacked 5 times on the night and his one interception was returned for game clinching touchdown by Broncos cornerback Tracy Porter with just under two minutes left in the game.

The Steelers defense could not find a way to consistently pressure Manning across his face during the night and they also had no answer for the Broncos hurry-up offense in addition. Manning was happy to take everything given him underneath and the Steelers tackling after the catch was sloppy, which led to a lot of yards after the catch. The defense also forced just one turnover as linebacker Larry Foote caused Broncos running back Willis McGahee to fumble in the first quarter, which was recovered by linebacker LaMarr Woodley. Unfortunately the Steelers offense could not turn that turnover into points.

The Steelers were without the services of linebacker James Harrison (knee) and safety Ryan Clark (sickle cell trait), but still managed to hold the Broncos to just 94 yards on 27 carries with a long of 12 yards.

Thomas led all receivers with 110 yards, while Antonio Brown led the Steelers with 74 yards on 4 catches.

On the ground, the Steelers offensive line failed to open holes up the middle for starter Isaac Redman and backup Jonathan Dwyer. Dwyer led the Steelers with 43 yards on 9 rushes and very well might be considered the starter next week when the Steelers host the New York Jets at Heinz Field.

While the offense attempted 8 passes to the backs out the backfield, it resulted in 6 catches for 29 yards.

The loss Sunday night now makes it back to back seasons that the Steelers have opened 0-1 after also dropping their week 1 game last year to the Baltimore Ravens on the road.

  • mghjr88

    very disappointing game

  • James Dorsey

    The team came with NO energy and motivation after we got embarrassed 8 months ago. That’s the most disappointing thing.

  • SteelSpine

    Our offense:
    – Ben threaded the needle many times. (vs If Leftwich had been in there, Leftwich’s windup woulda telegraphed, closing the gap further for more INTs.)
    – All our RBs hung on to the ball (vs Mendenhall woulda fumbled). Dwyer showed some hints of being special.
    – During 1st 3+ quarters, our offense somehow managed to keep our defense off the field a coupla long periods of time (which we knew we would need to do, tho some of it was Broncos penalties & a coupla gifts to us from refs).
    – Too many false start penalties. (for the reasons I unfortunately had predicted).
    – Our Mke Adams stunk, wiffed repeatedly. He & Legursky were worthless. Better bring in a vet backup who can play RT/RG, unless Lee is ready but he’s only a guard anyway. Sign an old vet off the street to the 53 as a backup RT/RG, & to make room, move Beachum to PS since the staff wont be playing Beachum.
    – ABrown took some big hits, yet didnt fumble & somehow got up every time.
    – A pass intended for Emmanual Sanders was picked off because Sanders is too slender weak to use his body to shield defender. In hindsight shoulda therefore used a stronger receiver there (Heath Miller, or Wallace but Wallace might notta known the play),

    Our defense:
    – Manning played as sharp as he did thruout his prime in Indy. Plus I give Manning credit for being aware of wherever Polamolu was. Priorly I had thot LeBeau woulda performed magic in this game to cover all our weaknesses, but he did not.
    – Our DLine did nothing, got zero push. Our entire front 7 got no pass rush, except a coupla times by Foote, & a play where our LOLB switched to onto right side of our DL & that surprised Broncos.
    – Where the %#*% was our ChrisCarter, did even play? He was invisible. It’s almost impossible for any ROLB in a 3-4 defense to not make any big plays. Granted Clady is a good OT, but hardly any team has a Jonathan Scott at LT.
    – Timmons stunk. Ike Taylor stunk sometimes.
    – Having Mundy on the field is like having only 10 men on the field. Polamolu had to play both safety positions – at the same time heheh. Manning exploited Mundy by sending plays at him repeatedly, I could tell Manning had worked on that in meeting rooms. Better start preparing Rogers-Cromartie.

  • zyzak

    Once Manning went to no huddle the defense couldn’t handle it. Redman didn’t look like he usually does. Too many points left on the field by offense

  • SteelerDave

    When you allow 19 first downs to the opponents (20 if you count penalty), allow a 55% conversion rate on 3rd downs and your own offense only gets 2.9 yards per average on running plays you will seldom win.

  • Buccos9

    I was so happy last year when the Steelers beat the Pats because it seemed that Dick Lebeau finally believed he had enough quality at CB to play press coverage against the receivers and pressure Brady. It worked perfectly. I was disgusted yesterday when Lebeau had the CBs playing five to ten yards off the receivers for most of the game and watched Manning pick them apart with short passes. Sure, the tackling after catch was bad, but Manning still would have chewed them up by patiently taking five to ten yards at a time. The Pats beat Manning for years by beating up his receivers at the line and bringing pressure. I simply don’t understand what Lebeau was thinking. That’s two horrible defensive game plans in a row against Denver.

    Chris Carter was certainly visible to me when he got sucked inside and walled off as Moreno floated around the end where Carter should have been containing the run. Moreno waltzed in for a TD. As Woodley said last year, people have to take care of their business. Polamalu also looked horrible on the Thomas TD run. That kind of defense is just not going to cut it.

  • Bob Francis

    I agree with most of the comments – it was a largely uninspired and sloppy performance on both sides of the ball: poor running… and no unit of the defense (D-Line, LBs or CBs) looked remotely dominant. Denver would have scored more if they had more possessions, so at least the offense held the ball. But poor red zone execution. New offensive coordinator, same struggles.

    I was hopeful that the new offense would keep Ben upright and allow for a lot of check downs, but it seemed like Ben got away from those as the game went on. No meaningful touches for Rainey. Only one deep attempt. Dwyer was the only RB bright spot, and Heath was Heath. Brown and Sanders both took big helmet-to-helmet shots – always scary.

    All that said, Ben had the ball in his hands with a chance to drive for the winning touchdown with 2 minutes to go. Against a good team on the road, you can’t ask for more than that. I know he’ll want that throw back for a long time. Imagine how differently we’d feel about the whole performance if they had scored 7 and won.

  • Jason Brown

    Please do tell….what does Redman usually look like? He looked the same as he always has….a little better than Mendenhall (which isn’t saying much). Dwyer on the other hand showed glimpses of what this team has needed for LONG time – a guy who doesn’t lay down but who, instead, drives and drives and drives those legs and who lowers his pads and lays the hit on tackling defenders like Bettis used to do.

  • Pete

    Ben got sacked 5 times. But 3 of those came late in the game on the same set of plays when Denver knew Ben had to throw the ball. Protection not bad for the most part. Plenty of things to fix but the Steelers didn’t play a bad game. Not common for the Steelers to get tagged with 31 points.

    Take away the Thomas 70 yd big play and Ben’s pick and the Steelers are still in it. The Steelers simply didn’t execute when they needed to and failed to stop Denver from getting 2 huge plays that changed the game.

    It’s only the 1st game. Starting on the road is never easy. Plenty of time for the Steelers to get it together. Things will come together on offense and defense.