10-9 at halftime, 13-4, 2-point conversion, 23-26, AFC, Aqib Talib, Ben Roethlisberger, Brandon McManus, C.J. Anderson, Chris Boswell, Conference Championship, DeMarcus Ware, Demaryius Thomas, Demaryius's mother, Denver Broncos, Denver CO, divisional round, field goals, fumble, game ball, Gary Kubiak, incomplete pass, interceptions, Kansas City Chiefs, Katina Smith, kickers, New England Patriots, NFL, penalties, Peyton Manning, Pittsburgh Steelers, punt out city, red zone, Sports Authority Field, turnover on downs
The Steelers had beaten the Broncos 34-27 in Pittsburgh Dec. 20.
The field goal kickers on both teams should get a trophy or at least a bonus for their outstanding performance on Sunday because they did most of the scoring.
Bronco Brandon McManus kicked his final contribution of the day at 53 seconds to go in the game and hit a 45-yard field goal to make the score 23-13. The Steelers’ kicker, Chris Boswell, nailed a 47-yard field goal at 41 seconds to make the score 23-16.
The Broncos opened the game with a 3-point lead and then scored another field goal to give them a 6-point lead.
This did not last long as the Steelers scored a touchdown and another field goal before ending the first half.
McManus booted a 51-yard field goal just as the first half ended to make the halftime score Steelers 10 – Broncos 9.
Both teams got well acquainted with punt out city it the second half, but the Broncos and certainly Peyton Manning have never spent so much time there and hardly getting beyond the 50 yard line
The Steelers had an easier time moving down the field, but once they got to the red zone it was another story. They opened the third quarter with a drive to the Bronco 10 yard line ran into Aqib Talib and settled for a field goal to make the score 13-9.
The Broncos were not doing much better when Manning got sacked on the Pitts 29 yard line, then threw an incomplete pass on third and 11, and McManus has to boot another one to make the score 13-12 still in favor of the Steelers.
Then, mid fourth quarter the Steelers fumbled and Bronco offensive linebacker Demarcus Ware was there; the Broncos began their only successful touchdown drive of the game, and running back C.J. Anderson took the ball in from the 1 yard line for the touchdown. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas made the 2 point conversion, so the Broncos were ahead 20-13
It wasn’t a pretty game. The Broncos had penalties, but no turnovers and no interceptions; there were, however, turnovers on downs. So, the Broncos won. Let’s see what happens next.
Manning later called the game “a dog fight, a grinder.”
After the game, Manning gave the game ball to Demaryius Thomas and told him to give it to his mother, Katina Smith, who had been incarcerated for 16 years and was in a box at the stadium to watch her son play pro football in person for the first time. It was a very happy reunion.
The Broncos next meet the New England Patriots in the AFC conference championship game. The Broncos play the Patriots 2:05 CT Sunday, Jan. 24 at Denver. The Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs 27-20 Saturday, Jan. 16, in Foxborough, Mass., to leave New England with a 13-4 record. The Broncos also now have a 13-4 record. The Broncos did not play the Patriots in 2014 and were beaten by them 34-31 in Foxborough Nov. 24, 2013.
— C.L. and H.E.