The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the half with a 10-7 lead over the Denver Broncos. Pittsburgh came out in the third quarter eating up a good chunk of the quarter during a 16 play, 74 yard drive that took up 8 minutes and 51 seconds. Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham booted a 35 yard field goal to extend the Steelers lead to 13-7.
Manning was on the sideline for nearly an hour before trotting back onto the field to lead the Denver offense. When he finally got his chance back under center, Manning needed only two plays to find the endzone.
Manning hit wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who ended the Steelers season last season, for a 71 yard score that closed the gap. The Manning to Thomas touchdown set us up for a back-and-forth fourth quarter that saw touchdowns from both teams. Mike Wallace caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger while Jacob Tamme caught a one-yard touchdown from Manning.
Broncos kicker Matt Prater then gave the Broncos a six point lead with three minutes left in the game. That set Roethlisberger up for one final drive and a chance to give the Steelers the win.
Roethlisberger spent the remainder of the game in a spread formation bring all of the Steelers speedy weapons onto the field. After connecting on a pass to Antonio Brown, the Steelers had a little hope left. Unfortunately, that is where it all ended. Roethlisberger cocked back and threw a quick out to Emmanuel Sanders before Broncos cornerback Tracy Porter cut under the route and got the interception.
Porter returned the pick to the house to give Denver a 31-19 lead with just under two minutes left in the game. The Broncos two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
What killed the Steelers was the poor performance from their defense. They were absolutely torched by Peyton Manning since midway through the second quarter. The Steelers defense was playing scared and were showing their hand early, which allowed Manning to audible into the best situation for his team.
It isn’t the type of performance the team had hoped for.
It is only week one so we will try to stay away from any overreaction. What we did learn is that Peyton Manning still has it and can be a difference maker for the Broncos. If Manning can do this to a defense of the Steelers caliber, they have the ability to torch any defense in the NFL.
Next week, the Steelers will try to rebound at home as they host the New York Jets while Peyton Manning and company travel to the Georgia Dome to take on the Atlanta Falcons.