In the game to decide who plays the Patriots this upcoming Sunday, neither the Broncos nor the Steelers showed any signs of being legitimate threats in the road to Super Bowl 50.
They scored a combined 19 points in the first half and the Broncos settled for three field goals, one while starting a drive on the Pittsburgh 30 yard line. Denver’s receivers had more drops than you can count on one hand and although all the blame can’t go on Grandfather Peyton Manning, there were calls for Brock Osweiler to come in shortly after the first quarter had ended.
Which as a side note, that does kind of suck for Osweiler to lead these Broncos to the #1 seed just for Manning to swoop in and take back the team.
Either way, Big Ben didn’t seem to be nearly as affected by his shoulder as we had thought earlier in the week. He was able to maneuver around the pressure and step up and chuck the ball up pretty well to a diminished receiving core who was missing Antonio Brown. He ended the half completing nine of his 15 passing attempts for 132 yards.
Martavis Bryant did step up and had a pair catches for 30 yards and had one rush on an end-around route that went for 40 yards on that scoring drive where Fitzgerald Toussaint (whoever the hell that is) pounded the ball in from one yard out.
With DeAngelo Williams out, Toussaint also was needed to step up and fill that role and finished the half with 32 yards on eight carries and the touchdown being his first of his career.
At the end of the first half, Manning mismanaged the clock, fumbled a snap and got rocked from his blind-side to set up his kicker, Brandon McManus with a 51-yard kick with the wind at his back.
McManus ended up connecting to put the score 10-9 at the half in favor of Pittsburgh but things were not looking all that great for either side.
Defensively, Denver didn’t seem to have any answer for the Steelers back up skill guys, blowing coverages and letting Pittsburgh impose their will (which wasn't very much since they only had one more point than the Broncos). Offensively, Manning and the offense showed even less promise, only converting on one third down conversion out of eight chances.
The second half was a much better half of football, I’m not saying it saved the game overall, the game kinda sucked, but the second half was more entertaining.
Better defense, some turnovers and although there was only one touchdown, it could have gone either way until around the two minute warning.
To start the third quarter, The Steelers drove down the field to convert on a 28-yard chip shot field goal to further their lead to 13-9. From that point, it seemed as though Pittsburgh had finally gotten something together and would be able to capitalize on their momentum and keep moving forward towards the lead.
McManus once again converted a field goal that was over 40 yards, his second of the game from that range. The score was down to a one-point lead again, at 13-12, shortly before the start of the fourth quarter.
The first two possessions of the fourth quarter were three-and-outs and the Steelers were set to receive the punt. Markus Wheaton was back deep and muffed another punt, this time on his own five yard-line. Crockell recovered the fumble but slid into the end zone, giving Pittsburgh a touch back.
At that point, there seemed like things could only get worse. And they did. Four plays later, Toussaint put the ball on the ground and DeMarcus Ware recovered the fumble on the Denver 35.
Peyton drove the Broncos 65 yards on 13 plays with C.J. Anderson finally pounding it in from one yard out. Demaryius Thomas caught the two-point conversion to put them up 20-13 with only three minutes left.
The Steelers would get one more field goal, but would not be able to come back from a 20-16 deficit and so was birthed Brady-Manning bowl 17.
The duo are tied 2-2 in the postseason, but Brady has the edge overall with an 11-5 record. From this game, Patriot fans should not be worried about travelling to Denver.
Peyton didn’t look like he used to; sure he can still make throws and adjust plays at the line (“OMAHA OMAHA,” F that.) but the rest of the offense wasn’t anything the Pats D can’t handle. On top of that, Bill knows exactly how to prepare for Manning.
On the other side of the ball, the Steelers were still able to put up 16 points against their “stout” defense and that was with a depleted skills core and a hobbled Ben Roethlisberger who is nothing like Tom Brady.
There could be no sweeter path to The Repeat than winning the AFC over Grandfather Manning and his HGH riddled body. You couldn't write it any better, the icing on the cake that is the F--- Them All Tour on their way to getting #OneForTheThumb for Brady and solidifying him as The Greatest Of All Time. Hands down, bar none.
Go Pats #DoYourJob
By Cole McNanna